Educational facilities and public buildings provide ideal conditions for spreading infectious microbes. Antimicrobial Copper surfaces continuously kill dangerous pathogens in these conducive environments.
Because these environments are ideal for the spread of bacteria, there has been a steady cross-over of antibiotic-resistant bacteria from the healthcare setting to the community. A prime example is Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list five factors that are conducive to the spread of MRSA and other infectious bacteria: crowding, contact, contaminated surfaces, compromised skin (i.e. cuts and scratches) and lack of cleanliness. These conditions are omnipresent in schools, dormitories, offices,and homes. Frequently touched surfaces in these buildings create breeding grounds for infectious bacteria that increase the potential for deadly outbreaks. According to the Health Protection Agency, one of the most recognised ways that childhood infections are spread in schools and nurseries is through hands touching surfaces such as tabletops, taps, toilet seats and handles. Examples of these infections include E. Coli O157 and influenza.
In the US, a 2009 study by the CDC reported a seven-fold increase of Community-Acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA) in outpatients from 1999-2006. Unlike Healthcare-Acquired MRSA, CA-MRSA can affect healthy children and adults who are not typically at risk. CA-MRSA strains often produce a toxin called Panton-Valentine Leukocidin (PVL). PVL-producing strains of CA-MRSA appear to be associated with increased risk of transmission, complications and hospitalisation.
High profile outbreaks in schools and public buildings are increasing at an alarming rate in the US and there are emerging reports of CA-MRSA in Scandinavian countries and the UK. According to the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, experience elsewhere suggests that these are likely to increase in the future.
The environment is a significant contributor to the proliferation of these deadly pathogens. Antimicrobial Copper touch surfaces can help fight MRSA and other pathogenic microbes in schools and public buildings. These organisms can survive on materials such as stainless steel for days, even months, and neither disinfectants nor silver-containing coatings can continuously kill them. Antimicrobial Copper is the only solid metal touch surface with the US EPA registration to back it up.
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.