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article imageCopper destroys deadly norovirus

By Tim Sandle     Sep 15, 2013 in Science
Researchers have found out that copper and copper alloys rapidly destroy norovirus, the highly-infectious sickness bug that often surfaces during the winter months.
Noroviruses are the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis in humans, and affect people of all ages. The viruses are transmitted by fecally contaminated food or water; by person-to-person contact; and from the subsequent contamination of surfaces. Norovirus infection is characterized by nausea, forceful vomiting, watery diarrhea, and abdominal pain, and in some cases, loss of taste. General lethargy, weakness, muscle aches, headache, coughs, and low-grade fever may occur.
In relation to the surface transfer issues, a study was constructed, designed to simulate fingertip-touch contamination of surfaces. The findings showed norovirus was rapidly destroyed on copper and its alloys, with those containing more than 60 per cent copper proving particularly effective. As a control, surfaces containing copper were compared with surfaces made from stainless steel. The stainless steel surfaces were ineffective and showed no significant virus kill. With a third control surfaces - brass - some virus kill was noted, but this was significantly below the virus-killing efficiency of copper.
The rate of inactivation with copper was initially very rapid and proportional to the copper content of alloy tested. It has been known for centuries that copper has antimicrobial properties. For example, it was observed in Roman times that water contained in copper vessels or transported in copper conveyance systems was of better quality (i.e., no or little visible slime formation) than water contained or transported in other materials. Until recently, however, the effect of copper on the norovirus was not fully known.
This research into the antimicrobial properties of copper means that surfaces made from copper could effectively shut down one avenue of infection. The research was carried out at the University of Southampton (U.K.). The research has been written up in the journal PLoS One in a paper titled "Inactivation of Norovirus on Dry Copper Alloy Surfaces..."
More about Copper, Virus, Alloy, Antimicrobial, Norovirus
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