Research Finds Copper Destroys the Norovirus

Posted on May 29, 2013

Copper Handrail


The dreaded norovirus is a highly infectious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea. The highly contagious norovirus spreads easily from person to person. One way people contract the virus is by touching a surface touched by an infected person. Researchers from the University of Southampton have found that copper and copper alloys will rapidly destroy norovirus.

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. His presentation showed norovirus was rapidly destroyed on copper and its alloys. Alloys those containing more than 60 per cent copper prove to be particularly effective. The contamination model used was designed to simulate fingertip-touch contamination of surfaces.

Professor Keevil says, "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.

"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."

Photo: University of Southampton