Mobile Phones: Reservoirs of Resistant Bacteria during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Kawthar Kayed, Ghalia Khoder, Joviana Farhat, Rose Ghemrawi

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Scopus citations


    Background: Mobile phones are excessively used even though microbes’ ability to survive on phone surfaces was confirmed. During the COVID-19 pandemic, heavy hygiene practices have been applied to mobile surfaces. Therefore, it is interesting to evaluate the emergence of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria on mobile phone surfaces. Methods: A random sampling technique was utilized on residents in Abu Dhabi, UAE between May and June 2021. A swab sample from each participant’s mobile phone was collected and transported to the microbiology laboratory for bacterial culture and antimicrobial susceptibility tests. Furthermore, a cross-sectional study was conducted via a self-administered questionnaire filled by participants. The questionnaire was used to collect sociodemographic data, phone frequency usage and cleaning methods. Results: One hundred two-sample swabs and data have been included in the study. The majority of participants (91.1%) reported cleaning their mobile phones with wipes and alcohol. However, 100% of participants had a mobile phone contaminated by bacteria such as S. aureus, E. coli, Coagulase-negative staphylococci, Micrococcus, Bacillus, Streptococcus, Citrobacter, Proteus, Enterococcus, klebsiella, Pseudomonas and Actinobacteria. Interestingly, most of these potentially pathogenic bacteria were found to be resistant to ampicillin, ceftazidime and cefotaxime. Conclusion: The continuous hand and mobile disinfectant have contributed to the emergence of resistant bacteria.

    Original languageBritish English
    Article number523
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Feb 2023


    • antibiotic resistance
    • bacterial contamination
    • COVID-19 pandemic
    • disinfection
    • mobile phones


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