Tags: copper | destroys | MRSA | touch | antibiotic-resistant

Copper Destroys MRSA at a Touch

Copper Destroys MRSA at a Touch
(Copyright DPC)

By    |   Wednesday, 24 February 2016 01:00 PM


British researchers have found that simply touching copper surfaces can destroy MRSA spread by hands.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to many common antibiotics. MRSA is transmitted by direct contact with the skin of someone who has the bacteria or by touching a contaminated surface.

MRSA infections often occur in hospitals and nursing homes where they can cause life-threatening infections that are difficult to treat, but they are also spread in other busy areas, such as public buildings.

Keeping the bacteria from spreading is difficult, but researchers from the University of Southampton have found that coming in contact with copper kills the bacteria.

A previous study found that when a droplet of liquid containing MRSA, such as with a sneeze, came in contact with copper, the bacteria was killed. But researchers wondered if copper was as effective when the bacteria was transferred from "dry" fingers and contaminated surfaces which would likely be touched by others.

"Our latest research shows that in simulated fingertip contamination of surfaces with millions of MRSA, the cells can remain alive for long periods on non-antimicrobial surfaces, such as stainless steel," said Dr. Sarah Warnes, lead author of the research paper. But she found they were killed even more rapidly than droplet contamination when they came in contact with copper or copper alloys.

The study, which was published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, shows copper surfaces kill MRSA through a multifaceted attack from copper ions and reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are chemically reactive molecules that contain oxygen and are a by-product of metabolism. Exposure to copper damages metabolism and DNA, causing MRSA cells to break down and die.

"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," said co-author Professor Bill Keevil. "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," he said, "this helps prevent breeding the next generation of superbug."

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British researchers have found that simply touching copper surfaces can destroy MRSA spread by hands. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to many common antibiotics. MRSA is transmitted by direct contact with the...
copper, destroys, MRSA, touch, antibiotic-resistant
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2016-00-24
Wednesday, 24 February 2016 01:00 PM
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