The antimicrobial properties of copper, and its potential contribution to reducing the spread of antimicrobial resistance, were presented at a conference launching the Network for Anti-Microbial Resistance and Infection Prevention (NAMRIP). Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies and Professor Guy Poppy of the University of Southampton were keynote speakers.
25th February 2016
In his presentation, Professor Bill Keevil – Chair in Environmental Healthcare at the University of Southampton – addressed the question 'Can we prevent bacteria having sex on a surface and transferring their antibiotic genes?' Highlighting the rise of 'superbugs' and inadequacies in hand washing, he covered his work at the university looking at the role of touch surfaces in the spread of infection.
Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) in bacteria plays an important role in the evolution of antibiotic-resistance, which has led to an increasing number of difficult-to-treat healthcare-associated infections. Professor Keevil’s research shows that, while HGT can take place in the environment – on frequently-touched surfaces such as door handles, trolleys and tables from stainless steel – copper prevents this process from occurring and rapidly kills bacteria on contact.
Professor Keevil’s presentation concluded that a combination of effective cleaning regimes, and touch surfaces made from antimicrobial copper, could be invaluable in preventing the spread of pathogens and antimicrobial resistance.
Copper and copper alloys are engineering materials that are durable, colourful and recyclable and are widely available in various product forms suitable for a range of manufacturing purposes. Copper and its alloys offer a suite of materials for designers of functional, sustainable and cost-effective products.
Copper and certain copper alloys have intrinsic antimicrobial properties (so-called ‘Antimicrobial Copper’) and products made from these materials have an additional, secondary benefit of contributing to hygienic design. Products made from Antimicrobial Copper are a supplement to, not a substitute for standard infection control practices. It is essential that current hygiene practices are continued, including those related to the cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces.