Copper can arrest norovirus

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

Norovirus is most prevalent in foodservice settings
Norovirus is most prevalent in foodservice settings

Related tags: Gastroenteritis

Copper can rapidly destroy the food poisoning bug norovirus, according to fresh research from Southampton University.

The virus can be contracted from contaminated food or water, person-to-person contact, and contact with contaminated surfaces and is responsible for more than 267m cases of acute gastroenteritis every year. That means surfaces made from copper could effectively shut down one avenue of infection, the researchers claim.

Contamination is most prevalent in the hospitality sector, for example, cruise ships, hotels and even hospitals.

Professor Bill Keevil, Chair in Environmental Healthcare at the University of Southampton and lead researcher, presented his work at the American Society for Microbiology's 2013 general meeting last week.

Rapidly destroyed

The presentation showed norovirus was rapidly destroyed on copper and its alloys, with those containing more than 60% copper proving particularly effective. The contamination model used was designed to simulate fingertip-touch contamination of surfaces.

"Copper alloy surfaces can be employed in high-risk areas such as cruise ships and care homes, where norovirus outbreaks are hard to control because infected people can't help but contaminate the environment with vomiting and diarrhoea,"​ said Professor Keevil from the University's Institute for Life Sciences.

"The virus can remain infectious on solid surfaces and is also resistant to many cleaning solutions. That means it can spread to people who touch these surfaces, causing further infections and maintaining the cycle of infection. Copper surfaces, like door handles and taps, can disrupt the cycle and lower the risk of outbreaks."

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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