—History of antimicrobial copper
That copper has beneficial effects in humans throughout history which is true for at least 4,000 years. In ancient Egypt, copper was used to create drinking water containers and to apply powdered metal to wounds for disinfection. The Aztecs used copper to treat skin diseases. Also, Hippocrates, the father of medicine (460 – 380 B.C.E) recommended the use of copper for sore legs related to enlarged veins. Additionally, in France, during the three cholera epidemics around 1850, the disease did not affect workers in copper foundries.
More recently, in 1970 the American College of Chest Physicians published on the ‘Antibacterial action of copper’. They showed that by using copper in large reservoir nebulizers applied by respiratory therapy the contents remained sterile. More pertinently, in 1983, a hospital study in Pennsylvania showed copper’s effectiveness in lowering the E. coli count on brass door knobs.
Copper has a long history of protecting human healthcare.
—What is antimicrobial copper?
How antimicrobial copper eliminates pathogenic germs :
- Disrupts the operation of the potassium-sodium pump in the outer membrane of germs
- Disrupts the osmotic balance of microbes
- It causes oxidative stress by producing hydrogen peroxide
- Disrupts the phase of DNA replication in viruses
- Stages of elimination of pathogenic microbes from the antimicrobial copper
Antimicrobial copper is used on the surfaces of frequent contact in a hospitals, schools, gyms, public buildings and public transport. Constitutes already an active ingredient in many different types of antimicrobial products used in agriculture, in marine environments, in health care and at home.
—Antimicrobial copper against nosocomial Infections
During the subsequent decades the major concern within the medical community has been Health Care Associated Infections (HCAI), or “nosocomial” infections.
This year’s report from the WHO notes how difficult it is to gather reliable and comparable HCAI evidence globally or even nationally. However, the conclusion is that “hundreds of millions of patients around the world suffer to those infections.”7.
Only receiving public attention when a family member suffers or there are outbreaks, HCAIs are a very real endemic, on-going problem and one that no institution or country can claim to have solved, despite many efforts.
The statistics are harrowing. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) indicated HCAI levels in Europe as 7.1% in 2009. This equates to over 4 million patients each year.9. Additionally, The estimated incidence rate in the United States of America was 4.5% in 2002, corresponding to 1.7 million affected patients10.
Infections in ICUs can be as high as 51%, most of these having health care-association. Furthermore, the longer patients stay in an ICU, the more at risk they become of acquiring an infection.12.
The measures taken towards reducing microbe transportation through frequently touched surfaces started in the last decade with the “Clean Care is Safer Care” campaign (WHO)12. In many national healthcare systems, specific guidelines are in place, in order to raise awareness and help combat nosocomial infections.
In 2001 in the UK, ‘the EPIC Project: Developing National Evidence-based Guidelines for Preventing Healthcare associated Infections’’ among other good practices, points out touch surfaces as one of the major components of microbial concentration and transfer13.