SOUTHAMPTON, England, May 29 (UPI) -- Copper and copper alloys destroy norovirus -- an infectious "vomiting" bug that sickens more than 267 million people worldwide, British researchers say.
Lead researcher Bill Keevil of the University of Southampton said the norovirus causes acute gastroenteritis -- stomach flu -- and it is spread via contaminated food or water, person-to-person contact and from touching contaminated surfaces.
Surfaces made from copper could effectively shut down one avenue of infection, Keevil said.
Keevil, who presented his work at the American Society for Microbiology's General Meeting, said norovirus was rapidly destroyed on copper and its alloys, with those containing more than 60 percent copper proving particularly effective.
"Copper alloy surfaces can be employed in high-risk areas such as cruise ships and nursing homes, where norovirus outbreaks are hard to control because infected people can't help but contaminate the environment with vomiting and diarrhea," Keevil said in a statement.
"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."