Copper destroys MRSA at a touch

February 23, 2016

New research from the University of Southampton shows that copper can destroy MRSA spread by touching and fingertip contamination of surfaces.

Frequently-touched surfaces in busy areas - such as hospitals, transport hubs and public buildings - are at high risk of community-acquired and healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA). Bacteria deposited on a surface by one person touching it, or via contaminated body fluids, can be picked up by subsequent users and spread to other surfaces, potentially causing thousands of infections worldwide. There were over 800 cases of MRSA and almost 10,000 cases of MSSA reported by English NHS acute Trusts between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 20151.

In previous Southampton studies, simulated 'droplet contamination' of MRSA - representing a sneeze or a splash - showed it was rapidly killed on copper and copper alloy surfaces. However, contamination of surfaces often occurs via fingertips, drying rapidly and potentially being overlooked by cleaning regimes, unlike visible droplets.

Dr Sarah Warnes, lead author of the new research, explains: "Our latest research shows that in simulated fingertip contamination of surfaces with millions of MRSA or MSSA, the cells can remain alive for long periods on non-antimicrobial surfaces - such as stainless steel - but are killed even more rapidly than droplet contamination on copper and copper alloys. Exposure to copper damages the bacterial respiration and DNA, resulting in irreversible cell breakdown and death."

This new paper, published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, demonstrates that MRSA die on copper surfaces by a multifaceted attack from copper ions and reactive oxygen species (ROS).

Professor Bill Keevil, Chair in Environmental Healthcare at the University of Southampton and the paper's co-author, explains the significance of these findings: "It's important to understand the mechanism of copper's antimicrobial efficacy because microorganisms have evolved various mechanisms to convey resistance to disinfectants and antibiotics. Our work shows that copper targets various cellular sites, not only killing bacterial and viral pathogens, but also rapidly destroying their nucleic acid genetic material so there is no chance of mutation occurring and nothing to pass on to other microbes, a process called horizontal gene transfer. Consequently, this helps prevent breeding the next generation of superbug."

Touch surfaces made from solid antimicrobial copper are already used by hospitals, schools, mass transit hubs, sports facilities and offices around the world to reduce the spread of infections, supporting key infection control measures such as good hand hygiene and regular surface cleaning and disinfection.
-end-
For more information on antimicrobial copper, visit http://www.antimicrobialcopper.org

University of Southampton

Related MRSA Articles from Brightsurf:

Widely available antibiotics could be used in the treatment of 'superbug' MRSA
Some MRSA infections could be tackled using widely-available antibiotics, suggests new research from an international collaboration led by scientists at the University of Cambridge and the Wellcome Sanger Institute.

Computer model shows how to better control MRSA outbreaks
A research team led by scientists at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health report on a new method to help health officials control outbreaks of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, a life-threatening antibiotic-resistant infection often seen in hospitals.

Using MRSA's strength against it
MRSA evolved to become a deadly killer because it's wily and resilient.

Livestock-associated MRSAfound among MRSA from humans
The survey results show more frequent detections and geographical dispersion of LA-MRSA in humans in the EU/EEA since 2007, and highlight the public health and veterinary importance of LA-MRSA as a 'One Health' issue.

Fighting MRSA with new membrane-busting compounds
Public health officials are increasingly concerned over methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Know thy enemy: Kill MRSA with tailored chemistry
UConn medicinal chemists have developed experimental antibiotics that kill MRSA, a common and often deadly bacteria that causes skin, lung, and heart infections.

MRSA uses decoys to evade a last-resort antibiotic
The superbug MRSA uses decoys to evade a last-resort antibiotic, reveals new research.

Scientists find a salty way to kill MRSA
Scientists have discovered a new way to attack Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.

Experimental antibiotic treats deadly MRSA infection
A new experimental antibiotic developed by a team of scientists at Rutgers University successfully treats the deadly MRSA infection and restores the efficacy of a commonly prescribed antibiotic that has become ineffective against MRSA.

OU team develops new antibiotic to fight MRSA
A University of Oklahoma team of chemists has developed a new antibiotic formulation to fight the sometimes deadly staph infection caused by methicillin-resistant S. aureus or MRSA and other antibiotic-resistant infectious bacteria.

Read More: MRSA News and MRSA Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.