In the healthcare environment, microorganisms' cross-transmission between inanimate surfaces and patients or healthcare workers can lead to healthcare-associated infections. A recent interest has grown to create antimicrobial copper touch surfaces, in order to counteract microbial spread in the healthcare environment. For the first time, five French long-term care facilities were at 50% fitted with copper alloys door handles and handrails. Related to the environmental bacterial contamination, 1400 samples were carried out on copper and control surfaces over three years after copper installation. In addition, some copper door handles were taken from the different facilities, and their specific activity against methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) was tested in vitro. In comparison to control surfaces, copper door handles and handrails revealed significantly lower contamination levels. This difference was observed in the five long-term care facilities and it persists through the three years of the study. High and extreme levels of bacterial contamination were less frequent on copper surfaces. Although, the antibacterial activity of copper surfaces against MRSA was lowered after three years of regular use, it was still significant as compared to inert control surfaces. Therefore, copper containing surfaces are promising actors in the non-spreading of environmental bacterial contamination in healthcare facilities.
Keywords: antimicrobial; copper; healthcare-associated infections; long-term care facilities.