In Europe about four million people annually acquire nosocomial infections, that is, infections during their hospital stay, which cause about 37,000 deaths and, according to estimates of the World Health Organization (WHO), in addition to the high human cost, these Infections represent an expense for public health systems of 80,000 million dollars worldwide.

A study conducted in the United States, whose results have been presented at the First International Conference of the World Health Organization on Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (ICPIC), has proven that the use of surfaces antimicrobial copper in the rooms of the intensive care units reduces the risk of acquiring an infection during the hospital stay by 40%.

The use of antimicrobial copper surfaces in intensive care units reduces the risk of acquiring an infection during hospital stay by 40%

The objective of the study, funded by the US Department of Defense, was to determine the effectiveness of antimicrobial copper in reducing the level of pathogens in hospital rooms, and to what extent that reduction would result in lower infection rates.

The hospitals that participated in the project are the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York, the Medical University Hospital of South Carolina (MUSC) and the Ralph H. Johnson Medical Center, both in Charleston.

In these centers, the researchers replaced the objects that are touched more frequently, such as bed bars, folding trays, call buttons and porters, by others made of antimicrobial copper. The rooms with antimicrobial copper objects showed a 97% reduction of the pathogens on their surface, the same level that is reached when an intensive cleaning of the room is carried out after a patient abandons it.

The vice president of Council of Microbiology and Immunology in the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)Michael Schmidt, who has presented the data in the ICPIC, states that the bacteria present in the contact surfaces of an ICU room are responsible for between 35 and 80 percent of the infections of the patients, which demonstrates the importance of take care of hygiene".

"The copper objects used in the clinical trial, complementing the cleaning protocols, decreased the levels of microbes and significantly reduced the number of infections contracted by patients in the ICU rooms," he points out.

Tests from independent laboratories have shown that, when cleaned regularly, antimicrobial copper products eliminate more than 99.9% of microorganisms, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as MRSA or ERV, and other serious bacteria. infections, such as Clostridium difficile.

Antimicrobial copper has also been shown to be effective against pathogenic fungi and viruses such as the so-called influenza A. Copper and about 300 copper alloys are the only solid materials that have been registered with the United States Environmental Protection Agency as capable to eliminate disease-causing organisms.


Disease! Crash Course World History 203 (November 2019).