UV lamps can help keep computer keyboards sterile, study shows

Installing automated ultraviolet lights over hospital computer mice and keyboards resulted in a 99 percent reduction in bacteria burden, according to a study in the American Journal of Infection Control.

An academic hospital in Chicago cultured samples from 203 mice and keyboards in intensive care units and found 193 of them (95.1 percent) had bacteria growth, with a median of 120 colony forming units per keyboard. Bacteria present included Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Pseudomonas, Enterobacter and others.

Then, the hospital installed automated UV-C lights over the computer mice and keyboards in the ICUs and took 218 post-installation samples. Of those, 205 (94 percent) were sterile, while 13 had bacterial growth. However, of those 13, six had just one colony forming unit.

Ultimately, there was a 99 percent reduction in bacteria on the surfaces after the UV-C lamps were installed.

"The UV lamp effectively decontaminates keyboards with minimal interruption and low UV exposure," the study concludes, but authors noted further studies will be needed to see if the lamps could reduce transmission of healthcare-associated infections.

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