Doctors and pupils: Clean keyboards once a day to avoid bacteria

The computer keyboard – a daily accessory in highly concentrated contact with our fingers – is a natural to be contaminated with bacteria,said Dr. Yuval Gefen, director of Rambam’s microbiology lab.

Computer keyboard [illustrative]. (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Computer keyboard [illustrative].
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Rambam Medical Center doctors and Haifa high school students recommend to clean your computer keyboards with an alcohol-infused wipe to kill bacteria that can spread disease.
The ninth-grade pupils from the Ironi Alef High School in Tel Aviv recently cooperated in a scientific experiment with the doctors.
The aim – part of the hospital-sponsored medical studies program to train the next generation of Israeli researchers and doctors – was to reduce the spread of disease at the workplace.
As Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav observed, the pupils swabbed keyboards in six different departments of the hospital. In the first stage, they swabbed their keyboards before disinfecting them with antibacterial wipes (containing 70% alcohol) and in the second stage checked the keyboard bacterial population after disinfection.
The samples were transferred to the hospital’s microbiology laboratory, where tests were conducted on the amount of general bacteria along with tests for the presence of particularly virulent resistant bacteria, Carbapenem- resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.
They also collected similar samples from keyboards, light switches and door handles at their school.
The most significant finding was the result of the examination of the samples after disinfection with the wipes; no bacteria were found on any of the keyboards.
The computer keyboard – a daily accessory in highly concentrated and lengthy contact with our fingers – is a natural to be contaminated with bacteria from our hands,said Dr. Yuval Gefen, director of Rambam’s microbiology lab.
Medical teams are taught to wash their hands with soap and water or alcohol rubs before and after contact with patients to limit the transmission of bacteria between people. The same reason applies to the general public, which is why it is recommended to wash your hands after a visit to the bathroom or before eating, said Dr. Hayatam Hussein, head of Rambam’s Infection Control Unit.
Both Dr. Gefen and Dr. Hussein recommend cleaning the computer keyboard with an anti-bacterial cloth at least once a day.
The Rambam Medical Education Project has been operating for eight years and currently operates the program in six schools in Haifa and the North. The facilities include five high schools: Ironi Aleph, the secondary school in Shfaram, the Baptist School in Nazareth, the Rabin High School in Kiryat Yam, the Al-Karma School in Haifa, and the Aliya Elementary School in Haifa.
During the learning sessions, the students participate in workshops, tours of various departments and lectures.
The courses focus on a number of medical tracks derived in the pupils’ curriculum. Among the subjects studied are cardiovascular and organ donation, basic resuscitation, ethics, infections, laboratories, respiratory systems, neurology, among others. The aim of the project is to provide students with an understanding of basic medical concepts, a behind-the-scenes look at the profession and lifesaving tools that they can implement at all times, such as resuscitation skills. The project is being held in cooperation with the municipal education division and the Education Ministry.