Smartwatch wearers warned band loaded with harmful bacteria in new study

In the journal Advances in Infectious Diseases, a team of researchers from Florida Atlantic University have made an alarming discovery.

Looking at 20 different smartwatch wristbands, 95 percent of them were contaminated with potentially harmful bacteria that could lead to infection and illness.

Biological scientist Nwadiuto Esiobu said: “Even at relatively low numbers these pathogens are of public health significance.”

Esiobu explained that the bacteria has the ability to “significantly affect the health of immunocompromised hosts”.

He added: “The quantity and taxonomy of bacteria we found on the wristbands show that there is a need for regular sanitation of these surfaces.”

This is said to be especially true for healthcare workers and hospital staff who come into contact with vulnerable patients.

The recent study highlighted how the material the smartwatch wristband was made of affected bacterial colonisation.

Esiobu said: “Plastic and rubber wristbands may provide a more appropriate environment for bacterial growth as porous and static surfaces tend to attract and be colonised by bacteria.”

Meanwhile, silver or gold wristbands were less likely to have a colonisation of bacteria on them.

Those most likely to have the highest levels of staphylococcal bacteria on their watch wristbands were gym goers.


While Staphylococcus can live harmlessly on people’s skin, if they enter a cut, the NHS says it can lead to a skin infection.

Signs of a staphylococcus skin infection include:

  • A painful red lump or bump on the skin
  • Hot, red and swollen skin
  • Sores, crusts or blisters
  • Sore, red eyelids or eyes.

The health body warns: “Staph bacteria can also cause more serious infections, like blood poisoning and toxic shock syndrome.”

Escherichia coli (E.coli)

An E.coli infection can lead to stomach pain, bloody diarrhoea and kidney failure.

If the infection develops into haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), although rate, it can be deadly.


This type of bacterial infection tends to only occur in those who have a weakened immune system.

The infection can lead to respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections, and intra-abdominal infections, amongst many more.


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