Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How copper restricts the spread of global antibiotic-resistant infections

Date:
December 4, 2012
Source:
University of Southampton
Summary:
New research has shown that copper can prevent horizontal transmission of genes, which has contributed to the increasing number of antibiotic-resistant infections worldwide. Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) in bacteria is largely responsible for the development of antibiotic resistance, which has led to an increasing number of difficult-to-treat healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs).

This is Professor Bill Keevil in his lab.
Credit: University of Southampton

New research from the University of Southampton has shown that copper can prevent horizontal transmission of genes, which has contributed to the increasing number of antibiotic-resistant infections worldwide.

Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) in bacteria is largely responsible for the development of antibiotic resistance, which has led to an increasing number of difficult-to-treat healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs).

The newly published paper, which appears in the journal mBio, shows that while HGT can take place in the environment, on frequently-touched surfaces, such as door handles, trolleys and tables, which are made from stainless steel -- copper prevents this process from occurring and rapidly kills bacteria on contact.

Lead author Professor Bill Keevil, Chair in Environmental Healthcare at the University of Southampton, explains: "Whilst studies have focussed on HGT in vivo (an experiment that is done in the body of a living organism), this work investigates whether the ability of pathogens to persist in the environment, particularly on touch surfaces, may also play an important role. Here we show prolonged survival of multidrug resistant Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae on stainless steel surfaces for several weeks. However, rapid death of both antibiotic-resistant strains and destruction of plasmid and genomic DNA was observed on copper and copper alloy surfaces, which could be useful in the prevention of infection spread and gene transfer."

Showing that horizontal transmission of genes (for example, those governing antibiotic resistance) occurs on touch surfaces, supports the important role of the environment in infection prevention.

Professor Keevil summarises: "We know many human pathogens survive for long periods in the hospital environment and can lead to infection, expensive treatment, blocked beds and death. What we have shown in this work is the potential for strategically-placed antimicrobial copper touch surfaces to not only break the chain of contamination, but also actively reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance developing at the same time. Provided adequate cleaning continues in critical environments, copper can be employed as an important additional tool in the fight against pathogens."

Beyond the healthcare environment, copper also has a wider role to play in infection control. Professor Keevil explains: "Copper touch surfaces have promise for preventing antibiotic resistance transfer in public buildings and mass transportation systems, which lead to local and -- in the case of jet travel -- rapid worldwide dissemination of multi-drug resistant superbugs as soon as they appear.

"People with inadequate hand hygiene could exchange their bugs and different antibiotic resistance genes just by touching a stair rail or door handle, ready to be picked up by someone else and passed on. Copper substantially reduces and restricts the spread of these infections, making an important contribution to improved hygiene and, consequently, health."

Installations of copper touch surfaces have already taken place across the UK and around the world, harnessing copper's ability to continuously reduce bioburden and consequently the risk of HCAI transmission. This research offers additional evidence to deploy copper (and copper-containing alloys that benefit from the metal's antimicrobial properties) in the form of touch surfaces to provide extra protection alongside standard hygiene practices.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southampton. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Southampton. "How copper restricts the spread of global antibiotic-resistant infections." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121204081150.htm>.
University of Southampton. (2012, December 4). How copper restricts the spread of global antibiotic-resistant infections. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121204081150.htm
University of Southampton. "How copper restricts the spread of global antibiotic-resistant infections." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121204081150.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Trees Could Save More Than 850 Lives Each Year

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A national study conducted by the USDA Forest Service found that trees collectively save more than 850 lives on an annual basis. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins