Lifestyle Health and Wellbeing 12 Oct 2016 Salt can help fight ...

Salt can help fight superbug infections

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | REVATHY PANDIAN & ANNA SAKHI JOHN
Published Oct 12, 2016, 1:20 am IST
Updated Oct 12, 2016, 8:02 am IST
Representational image
 Representational image

Chennai: Ever imagined that a simple ingredient like salt could be used to prevent the spread of infections?

In a recent discovery in Edmonton, Doug Olson, a commoner, invented something in his garage that has the potential to save lives from superbugs with the use of salt, a simple ingredient used by most on a daily basis.

With the use of salt, he created doorknobs, bed rails, faucets and toilet handles – all out of $6 salt blocks (the kind cows lick). Having been taught that salt is used to preserve meat, Olson developed a curiosity in finding out what else it could be
used on.

“Salt is used, as the organism may not survive in high salt content. The process is called osmolysis,” said Dr Balaji, head of the microbiology department, Christian Medical College, Vellore.

Following immense research, Oslon understood that the superbug, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), can only survive for five minutes on salt. It can live for 90 minutes on copper and more than six hours on stainless steel.

Infections caused by the superbug, are the most serious of diseases, as the pathogens tend to survive in the most extreme environmental conditions, as opposed to the other pathogens.

“A salt plating can be done at high temperature on doorknobs, just like how teflon coating is done on cars. These coatings are not everlasting and last for three to four years based on its usage. If this technology proves to be extremely useful where it was invented, we can consider using it in our country too,” said Sathish, an architect.

Applauding the invention, Ranjani, a microbiologist, said, “This technique can really be useful to destroy microbes which are not resistant to salt. This is also extremely useful in treating salmonella infections.

What is superbug?

Bacteria can carry genes that allow them to survive exposure to the antibiotics we currently have. This means that infections caused by these bacteria are harder to treat, although they are not necessarily more severe or infectious. What is concerning is that the gene that carries antibiotic resistance can be passed between bacteria, allowing for the creation of bacteria that carry resistance genes to many different antibiotics, a superbug.

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