Mobile phones used by hospital health care workers are often contaminated with germs, including those that can causes illness in hospitalized patients, a Turkish research team reports.

Dr. Fatma Ulger and others at Ondokuz Mayis University, Samsun, swabbed the dominant hand and the mobile phones of 200 doctors, nurses, and other healthcare staff working in intensive care units and operating rooms.

They found that 95 percent of telephones were contaminated, often with more than one type of microbe, and often with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Potentially serious infectious bugs such as staphylococci were isolated from phones in intensive care units, the team reports in the online BMC journal Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials.

When the study participants were questioned, 90 percent said they never cleaned their mobile phones. The investigators conclude that mobile phones "may facilitate transmission of bacterial isolates from patient to patient in wards or hospitals."

They recommend routine decontamination of mobile phones with alcohol-containing disinfectants.