A live broadcast from the University of Southampton showed how copper can help reduce the spread of antibiotic-resistant organisms in hospitals. The experiment conducted in a laboratory at the UK university used state-of-the-art fluorescent microscopy to show copper annihilating a concentration of MRSA bacteria within minutes. The MRSA bacteria perished swiftly on copper, yet survived on stainless steel, which is commonly used in healthcare environments. The demonstration was scheduled to tie in with this week’s World Health Day devoted to the global spread of antimicrobial resistance.
Professor Bill Keevil, Director of Environmental Healthcare at the University of Southampton and leader of the experiment, explained the significance of the result. “Bacteria such as MRSA can survive on ordinary surfaces like door handles, taps and grab rails for days, even months, and be transferred on hands, spreading bacteria to other surfaces or to patients. As more resistant bacteria emerge, we’re running out of drugs to treat the infections they cause, so we need to do everything practicable to prevent their spread,” he said, noting that copper is a powerful antimicrobial, which quickly and continuously reduces the number of bacteria on its surface.