Breakthrough in germ fighting technology

Hygiene and sanitation are constant concerns for people across the country, whether it be in the workplace, at home or at their local healthcare provider.

With more than 7 million infections spreading in healthcare services around the world every year, companies are constantly trying to develop the next best cleaning product or revolutionary device to keep our environments bacteria free.

A comprehensive study by the US Department of Defence may bring the public the next breakthrough in germ fighting technology – antimicrobial copper.

The multi-site clinical trial showed using antimicrobial copper surfaces throughout rooms in intensive care units reduced the risk of picking up infections in hospitals by 40.4 per cent.

Initial study results were introduced 1 July at the World Health Organisation’s International Conference on Prevention and Infection Control (ICPIC).

The trial was conducted across three hospitals in the United States and detailed the replacement of frequently touched items, including bed rails, over-bed tray tables, nurse call buttons and IV poles, with antimicrobial copper versions.

Shocking results showed that the test rooms with copper surfaces reduced surface pathogens by 97 per cent.

Such a high level of sanitation is usually typical in hospital rooms that are cleaned with a strict regimen after patients have left the unit.

Dr Michael Schmidt, professor and vice chairman of microbiology and immunology, presented the results at ICPIC, said: “Bacteria present on ICU room surfaces are probably responsible for 35-80 per cent of patient infections, demonstrating how critical it is to keep hospitals clean.”

“The copper objects used in the clinical trial supplemented cleaning protocols, lowered microbial levels, and resulted in a statistically significant reduction in the number of infections contracted by patients treated in those rooms.”

Although the findings are still in preliminary stages, it appears antimicrobial copper may make hospital cleaning more effective for staff and patients.

Hopefully the results will be used to justify the use of the bacteria-fighting metal in other areas such as the office or washrooms.

If antimicrobial copper was used for taps, door handles, toilet roll holders or even soap dispensers – it may curb the spread of infections in the workplace and at home.