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Your sleek mobile phone looks shiny and speckless. But do you know it might be carrying latent bugs? A recent study has found that the average mobile phone is almost seven times dirtier than a toilet seat, says a Daily Mail report.

A device in leather case could be carrying the most bacteria. But smartphones in clean plastic cases may also have more than six times the germs found on a lavatory seat, the report pointed out. Notwithstanding the exposure to bugs, two in five office workers carry their phones into the bathroom of their workplace, the survey reveals.

Company Initial Washroom Hygiene collected swab samples from smartphones using a handheld device which lights up live microbes where they appear on a surface, the report said. A toilet seat scanned this way showed 220 bright spots where bacteria lurk but the average mobile phone had 1,479, it added.

Professor Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, was quoted in the report as saying: “Swabbing a smartphone is almost like checking your handkerchief for germs – you are likely to find them because of the close physical contact you have with this device several times a day.

“There will be norovirus on phones at this time of year but the bugs on smartphones will probably be people’s own bacteria so the likelihood of passing on disease is low. However it might be ill-advised to pass smartphones around between people.”

Back in 2011, scientists at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine had revealed that one in six mobile phones were laced with faecal matter, including the E. coli bugs which can lead to food poisoning. In 2010, consumer watchdog Which? had tested 30 phones, and found that bacteria on one of them was enough to cause serious stomach upset for its owner.

Under the latest study, 50 phones were examined, and highest bacteria was detected in a smartphone kept in a leather case, which was also a wallet. It showed almost 17 times the amount of bacteria on a toilet seat. As far as a plastic case goes, the bugs lurked in 1,454 spots, which is almost seven times the reading for toilet seat germs, the report said.

Phones become filthy when they are taken into the bathroom, and are exposed to bugs that are found on lavatory handles and seats. So, the next time you feel you can’t put down your phone as you go to the toilet, just do it to stay bugs-free.