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Can Salted Doorknobs Prevent Superbug Infections?

Who knew that there might be a powerful ally in the modern battle against infectious disease—old-fashioned salt? A recent article from The Atlantic highlights this simple power of salt:

Over the last millennium, salt has undergone a major status shift, from exotic delicacy that drove humans to war, to kitchen condiment taken so for granted that 90 percent of Americans consume too much of it without even trying. But new research suggests that salt may be on the verge of yet another reinvention—this time in the world of disease control.
Superbugs … [and] drug-resistant infections, which include superbugs, are responsible for more than 700,000 deaths globally each year, and come with an approximate annual cost of $20 billion in the United States alone. How do you stop them? Frequent hand washing is one option, but that requires a behavior change, which can be difficult, even for hospital staff … Who knew salt could be up for the job? Well, butchers, for one, who have used it to fight off pathogens like Salmonella for centuries.

The article notes that when frequently touched items—like doorknobs and toilet handles—are covered in a salt solution, it resists the germs better than even copper. Researchers have also found another potential medical use for salt: as a coating on surgical masks. These masks are designed to trap viruses that wearers are carrying, like influenza. As the article noted, "Salt has the added advantage of being stable across most environments, easy to handle, and cheap to acquire."

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