By Shihoko Goto - Exclusive to Copper Investing News The global stampede to secure copper supplies may heat up even further as the red metal's antimicrobial properties come under the limelight. Studies at three US hospitals have shown that copper drastically reduced the spread of bacteria in intensive care units, where patients are particularly prone to infectious diseases. By covering high-contact equipment and furniture in hospitals at least 60 percent with copper, researchers believe that the rate of bacterial infections can be reduced drastically which in turn would lead to significant savings in healthcare. “People have known for thousands of years…the antimicrobial property of copper,” said Dr. Michael Schmidt of the Medical University of South Carolina. The ancient Greeks, for instance, found that water kept in copper jugs was safer to drink than water kept in other containers. Taking that knowledge further is a study funded by the US Department of Defense since 2007 at three medical centers, namely the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center of New York and the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in South Carolina, as well as the Medical University of South Carolina. After nearly four years of clinical trials, researchers have found that when surfaces that come into frequent contact with patients, hospital staff, and visitors are covered with antimicrobial copper, there is a 41 percent reduction in patients suffering from a hospital infection. Copper is used on six key surface areas in ICU units: bed rails, bed tray tables, the arms of visitors' chairs, IV poles, call monitors, and touch monitors to survey patients. Schmidt, who is vice chairman of microbiology and immunology at Medical University, pointed out that copper was not only an easy way for hospitals to reduce the risks of patients falling victim to antibiotic-resistant superbugs, it also is a more cost-effective way to keep infections from spreading.