Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Copper can help in the battle against influenza A H1N1, says leading scientist

Published: 23 July 2009

A striking way of killing off potentially deadly micro-organisms

A leading microbiologist from the University of Southampton has told a conference that his research has found copper is effective in inhibiting influenza A - including H1N1.

Speaking at the BIT Life Sciences 2nd Annual World Summit on Antivirals in China this week, Professor Bill Keevil, from the University’s School of Biological Sciences, said that he believed copper could be used to reduce the spread of ‘flu in public places. Copper appears to have broad spectrum antiviral activity because it is also effective, not only against RNA-based influenza, but also against DNA-based adenovirus 40/41 which causes gastrointestinal infections.

“With the ongoing threat of contamination by influenza A viruses, such as H1N1, there is a real and pressing need to utilise all appropriate and effective measures with proven antimicrobial qualities,” commented Professor Keevil. “Studies have now repeatedly shown that the use of copper as a surface material in key public places such as hospitals and food preparation areas may substantially restrict and reduce the spread of harmful infection”.

The influenza aspect of the study, completed in 2007, involved a series of experiments testing incubation of influenza A on copper and stainless steel surfaces. Results showed that, after incubation for 24 hours on stainless steel, 500,000 virus particles were still infectious, while after only 1 hour of incubation on copper, 75% of the virus was eradicated, and after 6 hours, just 500 particles remained active. Similar inactivation rates were observed for adenovirus 40/41.

Professor Keevil added: “These public health benefits, supported by extensive antimicrobial efficacy testing, are underpinned by the fact that copper, brass and bronze are capable of killing harmful and potentially deadly micro-organisms.”

The study has contributed further to the understanding of copper’s antimicrobial qualities, which actively inhibit the growth of bacteria, fungi and viruses.

Professor Bill Keevil

Studies have now repeatedly shown that the use of copper as a surface material in key public places such as hospitals and food preparation areas may substantially restrict and reduce the spread of harmful infection.

Professor Bill Keevil - School of Biological Sciences
Privacy Settings