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J Antimicrob Chemother. 2008 Sep;62(3):522-5. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkn219. Epub 2008 Jun 10.

Antimicrobial efficacy of copper surfaces against spores and vegetative cells of Clostridium difficile: the germination theory.

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  • 1Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Aston Triangle, Birmingham B4 7ET, UK.



Persistent contamination of surfaces by spores of Clostridium difficile is a major factor influencing the spread of C. difficile-associated diarrhoea (CDAD) in the clinical setting. In recent years, the antimicrobial efficacy of metal surfaces has been investigated against microorganisms including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This study compared the survival of C. difficile on stainless steel, a metal contact surface widely used in hospitals, and copper surfaces.


Antimicrobial efficacy was assessed using a carrier test method against dormant spores, germinating spores and vegetative cells of C. difficile (NCTC 11204 and ribotype 027) over a 3 h period in the presence and absence of organic matter.


Copper metal eliminated all vegetative cells of C. difficile within 30 min, compared with stainless steel which demonstrated no antimicrobial activity (P < 0.05). Copper significantly reduced the viability of spores of C. difficile exposed to the germinant (sodium taurocholate) in aerobic conditions within 60 min (P < 0.05) while achieving a >or=2.5 log reduction (99.8% reduction) at 3 h. Organic material did not reduce the antimicrobial efficacy of the copper surface (P > 0.05).


The use of copper surfaces within the clinical environment and application of a germination solution in infection control procedures may offer a novel way forward in eliminating C. difficile from contaminated surfaces and reducing CDAD.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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