Workstations and Bacteria – The Medical Keyboard

Computer keyboards harbour more germs than toilet seats including the deadly bacteria MRSA, microbiologists tell us and with the increasing use of computers in the health profession there is a worry that an increase in hospital infections could be imminent as keyboards can act as a ‘superhighway’ for bacteria.

There is an average of 3,300 microbes per square inch on our keyboards and 1,700 per square inch on a mouse, which is compared to just 49 microbes on a toilet seat! And bacteria levels increase dramatically during break times, the researchers discovered, as food spills such as coffee and biscuit crumbs harbour entire microscopic eco systems.

Some bugs such as MRSA are untreatable and are responsible for tens of thousands of deaths worldwide each year, most of which were contracted in hospitals. Some studies have found that a quarter of all keyboards in some hospitals had some levels of MRSA or other anti-biotic resistant ‘superbugs’

Of course regular cleaning of workstations would cut back possible infections and reduce the number of microbes present, however cleaning and mice can be difficult, with plenty of nooks and crannies for germs to hide in such as the raised keys. Water will also probably destroy most keyboards or mice if permeates into the circuitry.

Of course in hospitals, the problem of infections from keyboards is well known and with the increased reliance on computers to store patient’s records it is feared the risk of infections being transferred from keyboards to patients is going to rise dramatically over the next few years.

However, several companies are now producing medical keyboards and other computer equipment that is completely waterproof, easy to clean and made from bacteria resistant silicone.

These washable keyboards are also flat, compared to a conventional keyboard, allowing no hiding place for germs, making it easy to scrub every inch with either an anti-bacterial cloth or even a complete emersion in water. Waterproof mice are also available made from the same bacteria resistant silicone.

These medical keyboards are now gaining popularity in hospitals and other medical environments with the aim to curb the number of infections, like MRSA, caught in hospitals but other computer users that are either worried about infections or needing a keyboard that can be easily cleaned are opting to use waterproof keyboards.

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