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Study: 1 in 6 UK cell phones is contaminated with fecal matter

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 10:27 PM EDT, Fri October 14, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 1 in 6 mobile phones is contaminated with fecal matter, study finds
  • More than 1 in 4 Londoners' hands have the E. coli bacteria

(CNN) -- One in six mobile phones in Britain is contaminated with fecal matter, according to research made public Friday that cited poor hygiene as the cause.

"This study provides more evidence that people still don't wash their hands properly, especially after going to the toilet," Dr. Val Curtis of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said in the report.

In the study, researchers in 12 cities took 390 samples from mobile phones and hands, then analyzed in a laboratory what they had found.

Londoners had the highest incidence of the E. coli bacteria, which are associated with fecal matter, on their hands (28%). The bacteria can result in food poisoning and, in extreme cases, can prove fatal.

The study, which also included scientists from Queen Mary, University of London, found that Britons tend not to come clean about their hygiene practices.

When surveyed, 95% of respondents told the researchers that they washed their hands with soap where possible, but the researchers said 92% of phones and 82% of hands had bacteria on them. And 16% of hands and 16% of phones harbored the E. coli bacteria.

"People may claim they wash their hands regularly but the science shows otherwise," said Dr. Ron Cutler, of Queen Mary, University of London. A person can transfer fecal bacteria by touching door handles, food and mobile phones and, from there, to other people.

The study was funded by the Wellcome Trust.

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