Mobile phones are increasingly being used by all people in day to day life. However, they are found suitable breeding grounds for various pathogenic microorganisms. This study was aimed to determine the growth potential and antimicrobial susceptibility patterns of Salmonella species and Staphylococcus aureus isolated from mobile phones of food handlers and health care workers in Jimma Town, Southwest Ethiopia. Collection of mobile phone cotton swab samples and laboratory based microbiological analysis was used as the study design. A total of 188 mobile phones were sampled from food handlers and health care workers. The growth potential of Salmonella spp. and S. aureus isolated from mobile phones was assessed in various food items. The results have shown that Salmonella spp. and S. aureus isolated from mobile phones of food handlers and health care workers were found growing to their infective dose within 12 to 18 h in the sampled food items. Regarding the antimicrobial susceptibility test patterns, Salmonella spp. isolates were susceptible to ciprofloxacin, norfloxacin, gentamycin, chloramphenicol, and kanamycin, though they were highly resistant to ampicillin and nalidixic acid. On the other hand, S. aureus isolates were susceptible to gentamycin, chloramphenicol, amikacin, ciprofloxacin, streptomycin, and kanamycin. In multidrug resistance patterns, 5 and 6 drugs resistance were observed in Salmonella spp. and S. aureus, respectively. This indicates that mobile phones could play a significant role in spreading drug resistant infectious agents within the community. Therefore, the outmost care should be taken in using mobile phones.
Key words: Growth potential, microbial pathogens, mobile phones.
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