Study finds copper proves effective against new E. coli strains

June 2, 2011

As the World Health Organisation suggests the E. coli outbreak in Germany is a strain never before seen in an outbreak – O104:H4 – laboratory science conducted at the University of Southampton indicates a role for copper in preventing the spread of such infections.

Professor Bill Keevil, Head of the Microbiology Group and Director of the Environmental Healthcare Unit at the University of Southampton, explains: "A study looking at copper's efficacy against new strains of E. coli has just been completed. Although it did not specifically look at O104, all the strains investigated have died rapidly on ."

On a dry copper surface, the study shows 10 million E. coli bacteria are eliminated within 10 minutes. On a wet copper surface, one could expect a total kill within around 45 minutes. This antimicrobial property is inherent to the metal, and shared with alloys such as brass and bronze.

In the wake of this outbreak, hand washing and careful food preparation have been highlighted as key concerns, as has cross-contamination. Any raw food placed on a work surface can contaminate other food, or have bacteria transferred onto it from previous items resting there. Deployed as a touch surface in food preparation areas, copper will continuously kill any pathogens that settle on it, reducing the risk of cross-contamination, and helping to prevent the spread of infection.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Gut environment could reduce severity of malaria

February 8, 2016

Microorganisms in the gut could play a role in reducing the severity of malaria, according to a new study co-authored by researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and the University of Louisville.

Easier diagnosis for fungal infection of the lungs

January 18, 2016

A new clinical imaging method developed in collaboration with a University of Exeter academic may enable doctors to tackle one of the main killers of patients with weakened immune systems sooner and more effectively.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.