48 Investigates: Germy gadget test - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

48 Investigates: Germy gadget test

Let's all admit it, our phones and tablets are pretty much our lifelines these days. (Source: Raycom Media) Let's all admit it, our phones and tablets are pretty much our lifelines these days. (Source: Raycom Media)

How often do you clean your cell phone or tablet?

Chances are it's not enough and the surface offers up a perfect spot for bacteria to grow. We wanted to know if it’s enough to make you sick so we put our germy devices to the test.

Let's all admit it, our phones and tablets are pretty much our lifelines these days. They are basically attached to arms. But are you letting go of them long enough to clean? If not, you could be putting yourself and your family at risk.

We ignore the smudges and neglect cleaning, but what are we really carrying around on our devices. Even worse, where are we taking them?

"Anywhere, if it rings I answer and that could mean the bathroom," said Antonio Ward.

That's the problem and what could be putting your health at risk.

We gathered up a few devices and took to graduate teacher Mollye Sanders at UAH's Microbiology Lab to find out what's living on our everyday devices like cell phones and tablets.

"There is thousands of species of bacteria in your body. A lot of this you need to survive," said Sanders.

One by one she takes a sterile swab to the surface of each device especially where hands and mouth come into contact with them the most.

Then, that swab is transferred to plates perfect for bacteria cultures to grow on. The plates will then sit in an incubator.

After 48 hours, we went back to the lab for the results. We found plates growing all kinds of things. Collectively out of all the devices, the tablets came out the worst.

All of the devices carried normal flora which is harmless microorganisms found on everyone's skin like Neisseria, which is typically found in the nose and mouth.

They also had COAG Negative Staph that won't hurt us.

However, the tablets had "much more bacteria, the greatest variety," added Sanders.

That bacteria included E. coli and strep agalactiae.

"I did find one strep agalactiae which is in about 30 percent of healthy individuals, it is in your G.I. tract so when you bring your phone to the bathroom that maybe why I found that one," said Sanders.

Let's say your immune system is already compromised and your fighting off another infection, that's when having this bacteria on your iPad or phone can become dangerous. It could even get into a small opening like a cut on your hand.

Sanders says it comes down to simply cleaning the device, more often.

Here's the good news, all of the germs found on the devices would not make an already healthy person sick because our bodies fight these things off all the time.

You can find more information on how to clean your devices here

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