Staphylococcus Aureus, more commonly known as staph, is a bacteria that causes thousands of deaths each year – specifically the drug resistant strain, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, or MRSA. A study conducted by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control & Epidemiology showed that each year an estimated 2 million Americans contract MRSA during hospital stays, and at least 90,000 die from it. It has been determined that MRSA is a, if not the, leading cause of hospital-bourne infections.
New research has found that hemp fabrics actually kill bacteria, including MRSA. In a test conducted on a hemp-blend fabric (60% hemp / 40% rayon), where the fabric was infected with staph, researchers found that the hemp material killed the staph bacteria at an incredible rate – the material was found 98.5% bacteria free upon the first measurement. The same material was also infected with Klebsiella Pneumoniae (pneumonia). At first measurement, the pneumonia-infected material was 65.1% bacteria free.
The impact these results could have are immense; staph/MRSA spreads through contact, and by touching items that are infected – such as hospital gowns, towels, privacy curtains, etc.. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology tested both methicillin-sensitive and methicillin-resistant staphylococci on common hospital materials (clothing, towels, scrub suits, lab coats, privacy drapes and splash aprons), and found the bacteria survived on every material for at least 1 day, and in some instances as long as 90 days. Replacing any number of these items with hemp-based materials could severely reduce transmission of these deadly bacterias.
Beyond the standard arguments offered to push the legalization of hemp cultivation (eco-friendly bio-fuels, heart-healthy foods, etc.), this new research presents evidence that not only can hemp help the economy and the environment, it can also prevent the spread of dangerous illnesses, and save thousands of people from infection and even death.