Metalic copper effective against new E. coli strains
3 June 2011
As the World Health Organisation suggests that the E. coli
strain found in the outbreak in Germany (O104:H4) has never been seen
before, a study by the University of Southampton has found a role for
copper in preventing the spread of similar infections.
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 copper."
Professor Keevil will present the findings at the forthcoming WHO
International Conference on Prevention and Infection Control in
Geneva on 30 June.
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.
Source: Southampton University.