New Study: Copper Kills Virulent Viruses

Sara Golling
By Sara Golling
November 11th, 2015

A recent study at the University of Southampton, reported in “Science Daily,”  has found that a virus very closely related to those that cause Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle  Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)  does not survive long when exposed to copper.  However it can  remain infectious for several days on many other common surface materials such as glass, rubber, ceramic tiles and stainless steel.

Human coronavirus  229E  causes a broad range of illnesses from the common cold to fatal pneumonia.  Illness is often spread by inhalation of virus-rich micro-droplets sprayed into the air by coughing or sneezing, but is also frequently spread by touching various surfaces contaminated by such invisible droplets, and then conveying the live viruses on one’s hands to the face, nose, or food.   

Contact with copper and a variety of copper alloys, referred to as “antimicrobial copper,”  kills the virus within minutes.  The researchers suggest that antimicrobial copper could be used on many  frequently-touched surfaces in common areas, and would likely reduce the incidence of serious respiratory illness significantly.

Co-author of the paper Professor Bill Keevil, Chair in Environmental Healthcare at the University of Southampton, said:  “Respiratory viruses are responsible for more deaths, globally, than any other infectious agent. The evolution of new respiratory viruses, and the re-emergence of historic virulent strains, poses a significant threat to human health.” 

Since antibiotic treatment is not effective against viral illnesses, preventing their spread is  important.   Copper-clad  door-knobs and faucet handles, especially in hospitals and other public buildings,  and antimicrobial copper kitchen surfaces may be in our future.

Categories: Health

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