Copper effective against new E. coli strains

London: The Escherichia coli (E-coli) outbreak in Germany shows that it is a strain seen for the first time, according to the World Health Organisation.

However, the latest findings indicate that copper can halt infections spread by E-coli bugs which contaminate food by releasing toxins.

E.coli is a rod-shaped bug commonly found in the lower intestines of humans and warm blooded animals. Even the presence of a small number of E.coli bugs in the gut can cause life threatening infections.

One of the strains can also cause hemorrhagic colitis and post-diarrheal hemolytic uremic syndrome (D+HUS). HUS is a syndrome that is defined by the destruction of red blood cells, low platelet count and acute kidney failure.

An estimated 85 percent of E.coli O157:H7 strain are food borne as a result of contamination and can survive from several weeks to a year, according to US Centres for Disease Control.

Study leader Bill Keevil, professor and head of microbiology at the University of Southampton, explains: "Although it (the study) did not specifically look at O104:H4 (strain), all the strains investigated have died rapidly on copper."

On a dry copper surface, the study shows that 10 million E. coli bugs are eliminated within 10 minutes. On its wet surface, it takes 45 minutes for a total kill.

This anti-microbial property is inherent to the metal, and shared with alloys such as brass and bronze, according to a Southampton statement.

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.

Bureau Report

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. You can find out more by clicking this link