Copper and copper alloys will destroy norovirus, says research.
The virus can be contracted from contaminated food or water, person-to-person contact, and contact with contaminated surfaces, meaning surfaces made from copper could effectively shut down one avenue of infection.
Worldwide, norovirus is responsible for more than 267 million cases of acute gastroenteritis every year. There is no specific treatment or vaccine, and outbreaks regularly shut down hospital wards and care homes, requiring expensive deep-cleaning, incurring additional treatment costs and resulting in lost working days when staff are infected. Its impact is also felt beyond healthcare, with cruise ships and hotels suffering significant damage to their reputation when epidemics occur among guests.
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. The presentation showed norovirus was rapidly destroyed on copper and its alloys, with those containing more than 60 per cent copper proving particularly effective. The contamination model used was designed to simulate fingertip-touch contamination of surfaces.