Will copper keep us safe from the superbugs?

Dec 01, 2009

Three papers scheduled for publication in the January issue of the Journal of Hospital Infection, published by Elsevier, suggest that copper might have a role in the fight against healthcare-associated infections.

In a busy Birmingham teaching , researchers swapped a conventional toilet seat, tap-handles and a ward door push-plate for similar items made from 70% copper. They compared the number of microbes on the copper surfaces against the number of bacteria on the same items from another ward and found that the copper surfaces had 90-100% fewer live bacteria than the non-copper surfaces.

Similar findings were reported from a primary healthcare facility in the Western Cape, South Africa. Researchers there found 71% fewer on frequently touched surfaces overlaid with copper sheets (a desk, trolley, cupboard and window sill) compared with corresponding items made with conventional materials.

In addition to copper surfaces, cleaners have been using a copper-based along with microfibre mops in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. Microfibre products are widely used in UK hospitals since they attract bacteria from surfaces and reach into places that other cleaning materials do not; however, they are difficult to disinfect. The copper-based disinfectant (CuWBO) cleaned the microfibre as well as the environment. Then, it appeared to continue killing germs for the rest of the day.

Prof Elliott, who led the research at University Hospital Birmingham, has further commented: "The results of the first clinical trials in both Birmingham and South Africa suggest that the use of copper may assist in maintaining hospital surfaces free of bacteria and could augment cleaning programmes already introduced into health care settings. The findings related to the use of a copper biocide adds further evidence to the potential of this metal for fighting infection."

Whilst copper may indeed have a future role in the prevention of hospital-acquired infection, experts from the Hospital Infection Society were quick to point out that these innovative products will not reduce the need for effective and regular cleaning regimens, nor compliance with proper hand sanitation.

More information: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/623052/description#description

Source: Elsevier

Explore further: Muscular dystrophy: Repair the muscles, not the genetic defect

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Antimicrobials: Silver (and copper) bullets to kill bacteria

Nov 09, 2009

Dana Filoti of the University of New Hampshire will present thin films of silver and copper she has developed that can kill bacteria and may one day help to cut down on hospital infections. The antimicrobial properties of ...

Dietary copper may ease heart disease

Mar 05, 2007

Including more copper in your everyday diet could be good for your heart, according to scientists at the University of Louisville Medical Center and the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center. Their studies show that giving ...

Recommended for you

Dendritic cells affect onset and progress of psoriasis

Sep 12, 2014

Different types of dendritic cells in human skin have assorted functions in the early and more advanced stages of psoriasis report researchers in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine. The scientists suggest that new strate ...

Approach to deadly sepsis infections continues to vary

Sep 12, 2014

Treatment practices for patients hospitalised with the potentially fatal infection known as "sepsis" will continue to vary because of individual differences between hospitals and countries, according to University of Adelaide ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Caliban
1 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2009
That's good news- especially for people with strong portfolio positions in Copper Futures!