As a writer with two cats, my computer keyboard is constantly getting clogged up with fur. Hospitals may not share that particular problem, but they do have something worse: germs and bacteria that can be transmitted from computer user to computer user and then to patients.

A company called Operator Interfact Technology has a solution: waterproof copper keyboards. Copper has natural antimicrobial properties, so it seems like a natural fit. According to the company, its new keyboards "can be cleaned and disinfected with any commercial solution and according to EPA tests, copper delivers continuous antimicrobial action, and kills 99.9% of bacteria within 2 hours." The keyboards use a copper alloy called CuVerro that is said to be effective against E. coli and drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

According to a news release (pdf) from the Copper Development Association, a U.S. Department of Defense study found that computer input devices such as keyboards were among the most contaminated objects in intensive care units. The study also found that patient risk was reduced by 40 percent when a few antimicrobial copper devices were put into use.

The company cautions that copper keyboards do not preclude the necessity of regular infection control processes, but it can supplement them.

Operator Interface's copper keyboards are not available to the general public, nor is pricing publicly available. Interested hospitals should contact the company for a quote.