Proven infection control measures are needed to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus. Antimicrobial copper surfaces can help.
The recent outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa threatened to become a global epidemic and warranted aggressive deployment of proven infection prevention technologies. Antimicrobial copper touch surfaces have been shown to continuously reduce microbial burden in the built environment and lower the acquisition of hospital-associated infections without staff intervention. Existing data on viruses suggest that antimicrobial copper will also inactivate Ebola virus.
• Ebola virus is transmitted through direct contact with body fluids/substances of an infected person with symptoms, or through exposure to objects that have been contaminated with infected blood or body fluids1.
• A laboratory study conducted under environmental conditions that favour virus persistence found that Ebola virus could remain active on contaminated surfaces for up to six days2.
• Viruses like Ebola are susceptible to a broad range of surface disinfectants. However, testing on copper surfaces and other disinfectants is difficult at this time due to limited access to laboratories with the required safety clearances.
• The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has instructed hospitals to use disinfectants with proven efficacy against the following viruses: norovirus, rotavirus, adenovirus and poliovirus1. These viruses have a similar genetic structure to Ebola.
• Laboratory testing has demonstrated that copper alloys are effective against norovirus3, rotavirus and adenovirus (Figure 1).
Based on CDC's recommendation, and proven efficacy against viruses with similar genetic structures, copper alloys are expected to inactivate Ebola virus. Strategically deployed copper surfaces within care facilities may reduce Ebola exposure from blood, urine, vomitus, stool, secretions and shed skin as it is encountered on common touch surfaces in the built environment. All available infection prevention options should be considered to combat this epidemic, including antimicrobial copper surfaces which work 24/7 without behavioural changes or electricity.
Figure 1: Norovirus unable to infect host cells after 2 hours exposure to copper surfaces at room temperature.
Copper and copper alloys are engineering materials that are durable, colourful and recyclable and are widely available in various product forms suitable for a range of manufacturing purposes. Copper and its alloys offer a suite of materials for designers of functional, sustainable and cost-effective products.
Copper and certain copper alloys have intrinsic antimicrobial properties (so-called ‘Antimicrobial Copper’) and products made from these materials have an additional, secondary benefit of contributing to hygienic design. Products made from Antimicrobial Copper are a supplement to, not a substitute for standard infection control practices. It is essential that current hygiene practices are continued, including those related to the cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces.
- Interim Guidance for Environmental Infection Control in Hospitals for Ebola Virus. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Persistence in darkness of virulent alphaviruses, Ebola virus, and Lassa virus deposited on solid surfaces. Sagripanti JL, Rom AM, Holland LE. Arch Virol 2010; 155:2035-2039.
- Inactivation of Norovirus on Dry Copper Alloy Surfaces. Warnes, S.L., Keevil, C.W. PLOS One, September 2013, Vol. 8, Issue 9.