Copper could corral MRSA contamination


SOUTHAMPTON, U.K.—A recent study by two British doctors indicates that the use of copper alloys on surfaces in healthcare facilities could control the highly antimicrobial-resistant bacteria, MRSA—methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus. MRSA can cause skin, bone and life-threatening blood infections, and pneumonia. Typically transmitted by medical staff and those in contact with heavily contaminated equipment and surfaces around infected patients, MRSA has been essentially resistant to such antibiotics as penicillin and cephalosporin.

The study by doctors C. William Keevil and J.O. Noyce of the University of Southampton. indicates that the use of copper metals on door knobs, push plates, fixtures, and work surfaces would considerably mitigate MRSA in hospitals and reduce the risk of cross-contamination between staff and patients in critical care areas.

The study compared the survival rates of MRSA on stainless steel (used prevalently in healthcare facilities) as well as on selected copper alloys. At room temperature, the doctors report that MRSA persisted on stainless steel for up to 72 hours, while for various copper alloys, reductions in viability were achieved after 4.5 hours, three hours, and 1.5 hours. Yellow brass rendered the bacteria completely inviable after slightly more than two hours, while the high-copper alloy saw complete inviability in 90 minutes.