Fighting nosocomial infections with biocidal non-intrusive hard and soft surfaces
Approximately 7 million people worldwide acquire a healthcare associated infection each year. Despite aggressive monitoring, hand washing campaigns and other infection control measures, nosocomial infections (NI) rates, especially those caused by antibiotic resistant pathogens, are unacceptably high worldwide. Additional ways to fight these infections need to be developed. A potential overlooked and neglected source of nosocomial pathogens are those found in non-intrusive soft and hard surfaces located in clinical settings. Soft surfaces, such as patient pyjamas and beddings, can be an excellent substrate for bacterial and fungal growth under appropriate temperature and humidity conditions as those present between patients and the bed. Bed making in hospitals releases large quantities of microorganisms into the air, which contaminate the immediate and non-immediate surroundings. Microbes can survive on hard surfaces, such as metal trays, bed rails and door knobs, for very prolonged periods of time. Thus soft and hard surfaces that are in direct or indirect contact with the patients can serve as a source of nosocomial pathogens. Recently it has been demonstrated that copper surfaces and copper oxide containing textiles have potent intrinsic biocidal properties. This manuscript reviews the recent laboratory and clinical studies, which demonstrate that biocidal surfaces made of copper or containing copper can reduce the microbiological burden and the NI rates.