What Lurks On Your Keyboard

graphic depicting a computer keyboard
It's enough to make you want to scrub your hands and hose down your computer.

While you type, your fingers could be grazing over potentially harmful bacteria. That news comes from Gary Noskin, MD, and colleagues at Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

They were curious to see if bacteria found a friendly home on computer keyboards and if those bacteria could then hop onto someone's hand, given the chance.

All three of the germs they tested survived at least an hour on the keyboards. Two lasted for a day and grew during that time.

Bad Bugs

The bacteria tested were vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PSAE).

All three bacteria are widespread in nature. In a worst-case scenario, they can be life-threatening, but they rarely bother healthy people, says a news release from the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

VRE and PSAE usually only trouble hospitalized patients whose immune systems are compromised, says the news release. VRE can cause complicated abdominal infections, as well as infecting the skin, bloodstream, and urinary tract. PSAE frequently prompts pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and bloodstream infections.