Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Global Network for Anti-Microbial Resistance and Infection Prevention

NAMRIP member Professor Bill Keevil presents invited talk at International Microbiology Conference

Published: 27 October 2016
Professor Bill Keevil

Professor Bill Keevil was an invited speaker at the 6th International Clinical Microbiology Conference held in Rome 20-22 October 2016. He gave a paper entitled "Prevention of Horizontal Gene Transfer of Antibiotic Resistance Genes on Touch Surfaces” and was also invited to chair the session on "Antimicrobial Agents".

This presentation highlighted his work showing that antimicrobial resistant pathogens such as Klebsiella pneumoniae and E. coli can rapidly transfer carbapenemase and extended spectrum beta lactamase (ESBL) resistance genes to antibiotic sensitive bacteria on dry touch surfaces, potentially creating new superbugs that spread rapidly around the world in hospitals and mass transport systems. These pathogens can survive days or weeks on the touch surfaces, so without good and continuous hygiene practice they can persist and present an infection risk.

In support of this hypothesis, Prof Keevil described the recently published work of a German laboratory whose staff travelled the world and swabbed many airport toilet handles in 59 countries. Over 5% of samples contained Staphylococcus aureus strains, some of which were the dangerous methicillin resistant (MRSA) strains. In particular a rare community associated strain CA-MRSA usually found only in India was found on a handle in Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, illustrating how these strains can be spread by air travel.

Fortunately, his work with antimicrobial copper alloy touch surfaces showed rapid death of the pathogens and destruction of their nucleic acid genomes and plasmids, including the antimicrobial resistance genes preventing their transfer. These alloys have been shown to reduce hospital touch surface bioburden by 90% and infection rates in intensive care units by an impressive 58%, and are now being installed in hospitals, other healthcare facilities and mass transport systems worldwide.

The 7th International Clinical Microbiology Conference will be held in Paris, October 2017.

Prevention is better than cure, particularly when there are no cures or they no longer work, such is the case with the emergence of antimicrobial resistant superbugs which survive very well on common touch surfaces that cannot be effectively cleaned 24/7

Professor Bill Keevil - Chair in Environmental Healthcare within Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton
Privacy Settings