Doctors warn your cell phone may carry E. coli

As another E. coli scare hits the airwaves, doctors at Centra Care are reminding folks to help fight another E. coli threat: your cell phone.

Doctor Tim Hendrix said cell phone screens are actually surprisingly common carriers for bacteria like E. coli. According to a 2011 study from a university in London, about one in six phones likely carried the bacteria.

How would that happen? Because, Hendrix said, those phones actually have fecal matter on them.

"There was one study I read where your cell phone has more bacteria on it that a toilet seat,” said Dr. Hendrix.

A big reason, he said, is because that’s precisely where people are using those phones: on the toilet.

As smart phone technology has grown in popularity it’s become common to hear texting in the next stall or maybe even a phone conversation coming from the restroom. When that’s happening though you are likely touching that phone before ever washing your hands.

"A bathroom is going to be an area where there's a high concentration of bacteria you're exposed to, so why expose your personal electronic device to that?" said Hendrix.

The doctor said to add to the problem, those smart phones are generally right against a person’s body, taking on body heat, and providing the perfect incubator for that bacteria to thrive.

A way to clean up the habit, Hendrix said for one: don’t use your phone in the bathroom. Another way to help though is to clean your phone regularly. Hendrix said he’s no expert there, but check your owner’s manual for the best method to do that.

While Hendrix doubts the small amounts of bacteria on your phone will actually make you sick, he said it’s not helping your case.

"Why expose yourself to those things if you don't have to?" he said.