Antimicrobial Copper Products in Hospitals Can be Considered as a Response to CDC's Warning on CRE


Deadly bacterial infections are on the rise in American hospitals, as antibiotics are being overcome by germs known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE). While many antibiotics have failed to treat bacteria such as CRE, antimicrobial copper has been proven to continuously kill greater than 99.9 percent of bacteria that cause healthcare acquired infections within two hours, including those resistant to antibiotics.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that CREa strain of bacteria that kills up to half of the patients who are infectedis becoming more common. In the last decade, the proportion of Enterobacteriaceae that were carbapenem-resistant quadrupled from 1.2% in 2001 to 4.2% in 2011.

"CRE are nightmare bacteria," said CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden in a statement. "Our strongest antibiotics don't work and patients are left with potentially untreatable infections. Doctors, hospital leaders and public health must work together now to implement CDC's 'detect and protect' strategy and stop these infections from spreading."

A Department of Defense study at three hospitals in the U.S. found that copper is capable of killing pathogens very effectively. In fact, antimicrobial copper and its alloys (e.g., brass and bronze) are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as being able to kill greater than 99.9 percent of infection causing bacteria* within two hours of exposure.

"It is of particular interest that two of the bacteria that make up the CRE strainE. coli, and Enterobacter aerogenes, and a third organism of concern, although not members of CRE, carbapenum-resistant Pseudomonas aeroginosa (CRPA)are related to the strains that were actually killed within the two hours on antimicrobial copper surfaces when tested under EPA test protocols," says Harold Michels, senior vice president of technology & technical services at the Copper Development Association (CDA).

In addition to the three bacteria cited above, copper surfaces also kill several other deadly superbugs, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), within two hours. This fact is covered by a public health EPA registration, and was also proven in recently completed clinical trials. A study published in the July 2012 edition of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology found that when the surfaces of hospital components (e.g. bedrail, IV pole, overbed table) made of other materials were replaced with copper ones, there was an 83 percent reduction in the amount of bacteria on those surfaces. With healthcare-acquired infections on the rise as a result of these bacteria, the use of sntimicrobial copper can be considered as a key infection-fighting strategy.

"Hospitals should think of ways beyond handwashing to decrease healthcare associated infections," says Dr. Archelle Georgiou, physician and healthcare advocate. "Antimicrobial Copper represents a breakthrough innovation to address healthcare acquired infections, and hospitals that install sntimicrobial copper products are engineering safety into their patient care."

Currently, there are hundreds of Antimicrobial Copper healthcare related productsfrom IV poles to stretchers to door hardware available today.
For more information about antimicrobial copper, visit

Source: Copper Development Association

* Laboratory testing shows that, when cleaned regularly, Antimicrobial Copper surfaces kill greater than 99.9% of the following bacteria within two hours of exposure: MRSA, Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus faecalis (VRE), Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacter aerogenes, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and E. coli O157:H7. Antimicrobial Copper surfaces are a supplement to and not a substitute for standard infection control practices and have been shown to reduce microbial contamination, but do not necessarily prevent cross contamination; users must continue to follow all current infection control practices. EPA approval for public health claims. In the U.S., after many years of research, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has registered more than 400 copper based alloys, such as brass and bronze, as public health antimicrobial products.  Antimicrobial Copper is the only class of solid touch surfaces registered by the EPA to continuously kill bacteria that cause infections and pose a risk to human health.

Related Videos
Infection Control Today Topic of the Month: Mental Health
Infection Control Today Topic of the Month: Mental Health
Cleaning and sanitizing surfaces in hospitals  (Adobe Stock 339297096 by Melinda Nagy)
Set of white bottles with cleaning liquids on the white background. (Adobe Stock 6338071172112 by zolnierek)
Association for the Health Care Environment (Logo used with permission)
Woman lying in hospital bed (Adobe Stock, unknown)
Photo of a model operating room. (Photo courtesy of Indigo-Clean and Kenall Manufacturing)
Mona Shah, MPH, CIC, FAPIC, Construction infection preventionist  (Photo courtesy of Mona Shah)
UV-C Robots by OhmniLabs.  (Photo from OhmniLabs website.)
CDC  (Adobe Stock, unknown)
Related Content