We all know that iPads (or your favorite tablet of choice) are being used for more than per­sonal rea­sons. Com­mu­nity tablets and other touch­screen devices have become com­mon­place, espe­cially in doctor’s offices, where front desk per­sonnel use them to check in patients. And most of us always have our iPhones or smart­phones in our hands at all times, even at the gym, in a meeting, or in bed (you know who you are). But unless you’re reg­u­larly cleaning it (and you know you’re not), exactly how dirty do these things get?

Antibi­otic resis­tant bac­teria is a really big deal now when it comes to national health. These infec­tious microbes are pow­erful, micro­scopic bugs. In fact, according to a new report put out last month by the CDC, at least 2 mil­lion people a year become infected with bac­teria that are resis­tant to antibi­otics and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result of these infec­tions. That’s why Betsy Hirsch, an assis­tant pro­fessor in the Depart­ment of Phar­macy Prac­tice at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity is researching how dif­ferent com­bi­na­tions of drugs might do a better job of killing these bac­teria than a single drug alone. In a report she says:

Antibiotic-​​resistant bac­teria have evolved or acquired mech­a­nisms that make them resis­tant to, gen­er­ally speaking, mul­tiple classes of antibi­otics. Theoveruse or inap­pro­priate use of antibi­otics in both humans’ health and agri­cul­ture can lead to the emer­gence and spread of antibiotic-​​resistant bac­teria. The CDC report describes that a dis­turbing number—up to 50 percent—of all pre­scribed antibi­otics are unnec­es­sary or inap­pro­pri­ately prescribed.

In a col­lab­o­ra­tive project, Hirsch and her team swabbed the sleek sur­faces of 30 phar­macy prac­tice fac­ulty mem­bers’ iPads looking for three types of bacteria: methicillin-resistant Staphy­lo­coccus aureus (aka MRSA), vancomycin-resistant Ente­ro­coccus, and Pseudomonas aerug­i­nosa.


Read the article at Boston Magazine →