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Biosecurity for Canadian Cervid Farms Producer Planning Guide
Appendix 4: Selected disinfectants

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This is a short list of selected disinfectants suitable for routine cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces and equipment. Always follow manufacturers' recommendations.

Disinfectant selection and use
Active agent Product examples Contact time Advantages Disadvantages Comments

1:10-1:50 dilution of household bleach with clean water

10 min
  • Broad spectrum, effective against most resistant organisms (enveloped viruses, bacterial spores, and dermatophytes).
  • Readily available.
  • Cost effective.
  • Corrosive for some surfaces.
  • Poor stability when exposed to light.
  • Poorly active in the presence of organic debris (for example, dirt and manure).
  • Can bleach coloured fabrics.
  • Good for various environmental surfaces.
  • Efficacy decreases with increasing pH, decreasing temperature, presence of ammonia and nitrogen.
  • Reserve high concentration (1:10) for specific circumstances with resistant microorganisms.
  • 1:32-1:50 more commonly used.
  • Never mix with other chemicals as this can result in the production of harmful vapours.
  • Change diluted solutions daily.
  • Do not store in clear containers.
Potassium peroxymonosulfate Virkon
10 min
  • Broad spectrum, with activity against enveloped viruses and bacterial spores.
  • Active in the presence of moderate organic debris.
  • Corrosive, especially with metal surfaces.
  • Commonly used routine disinfectant.
  • Care must be taken when handling concentrated products.
  • Consider rinsing metal and concrete surfaces after required contact time.
Accelerated hydrogen peroxide PREvail 5–10 min
  • Broad spectrum, with activity against enveloped viruses, bacterial spores and ringworm.
  • Good activity in moderate organic debris.
  • Low toxicity.
  • Biodegradable.
  • Does not appear to be corrosive
  • More expensive than other options.
  • Excellent choice for environmental disinfection.
Quaternary ammoniums Various 10–30 min
  • Low cost.
  • Low toxicity.
  • Stable under storage.
  • Good against gram-negative and many gram-positive bacteria, and enveloped viruses.
  • Limited impact on non-enveloped viruses, bacterial spores and ringworm.
  • Inhibited by organic debris
  • Common environmental disinfectant, however, spectrum may be suboptimal for some situations.
Phenolics Various 10 min
  • Good activity in organic debris.
  • Limited activity against non-enveloped viruses and bacterial spores.
  • Can be irritating to skin and mucous membranes.
  • Potentially toxic to other species (e.g. cats, pigs)
  • Not recommended because of toxicity, spectrum and lack of significant advantages over better options. Potentially toxic.
Alcohol, povidone iodine, chlorhexidine, acids        
  • Not recommended because of activity in the environment or spectrum.

Information on use and efficacy of selected disinfectants

Disinfectants are regulated by Health Canada for safety, efficacy and quality when used according to the label directions. However, efficacy is determined under controlled laboratory conditions, and if using disinfectants in a farm environment, they must be used according to the manufacturer's recommendations and considerations given to increased organic load and environmental conditions. Disinfectants are most effective when applied to clean, dry surfaces; their effectiveness is affected by many factors including temperature, pH of the water, presence of other chemicals, concentration and contact time.

Disinfectants that meet Health Canada's requirements are given a Drug Identification Number (DIN). Health Canada maintains a searchable database of registered disinfectants (the Drug Product Database). It is recommended to use a disinfectant product that has a DIN and is effective against the pathogen targeted. Note: foreign approvals by the US Environmental Protection Agency or US Food and Drug Administration are not recognized in Canada. Not all disinfectants are equal in their ability to inactivate pathogens.

  • Low level disinfectants will contain a DIN and the term disinfectant on the label.
  • Medium level disinfectants will contain a DIN, the term disinfectant and also have a TB, Tuberculocidal, or Mycobacterium claim on the label.
  • High level disinfectants will contain a DIN, the term "disinfectant" and also have a TB, Tuberculocidal, or Mycobacterium claim and a Sporocidal claim on the label.

As temperatures drop below 10°C, many chemical disinfectants require increased contact time and/or a higher concentration to achieve effective disinfection. Quaternary ammonium compounds are more affected by decreased temperatures than hydrogen peroxide, bleach and potassium peroxymonosulfate. As temperatures approach freezing, disinfection becomes difficult; trailers, equipment and other items should be cleaned and disinfected in a heated building.

At temperatures below 0°C, products to prevent freezing such as propylene glycol or calcium chloride can be added to some disinfectant solutions used to increase "wet contact" time. Speak to disinfectant manufacturers to determine suitability and concentrations.

The effectiveness of disinfectants registered in Canada is determined under controlled laboratory conditions.

When using disinfectants in a farm environment, they must be used according to the manufacturer's recommendations and considerations given to increased organic load and environmental conditions.

Recommendations on using bleach as a disinfectant

Bleach is a generic term for products comprised of sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl). Some products containing sodium hypochlorite are registered as disinfectants and have been granted a DIN. Bleach is available in various concentrations with 5% to 8.5% being more common. Knowing the concentration of bleach in the bottle is necessary when diluting to use as a disinfectant. The following concentrations and dilutions are suggested for "routine disinfection".

Bleach (sodium hypochlorite) concentrations and use
Bleach 5.25% Volume Dilution Ratio Water Inclusion Rate Per Cent (%) NaOCl Parts per million (ppm) Cl Use
10 ml 1:249 2490 ml 0.02% 200 ppm Household use – kitchen surfaces (for reference)
50 ml 1:49 2450 ml 0.1% 1 000 ppm Handheld equipment/tools
250 ml 1:9 2250 ml 0.5% 5 000 ppm Building surfaces, pens, barns
1000 ml 1:1.625 1625 ml 2.0% 20 000 ppm Tuberculosis, prions

Considerations when using bleach:

  • Surfaces must be clean before applying: bleach is a poor cleaner and is inactivated by dirt and other organic material.
  • Never mix bleach with other chemicals: bleach reacts with acids and ammonia to produce toxic gases.
  • Rinse surfaces after contact time is achieved: bleach is corrosive to metals and can damage fabrics and rubber surfaces at higher concentrations.
  • Always prepare fresh solutions: bleach quickly loses activity once mixed and fresh solutions should be prepared daily.
  • The pH and mineral concentration of water can affect the efficacy of the disinfectant
  • Know the concentration of bleach in the product used: bleach is available in a variety of concentrations.
  • Store stock solutions in a cool, dark location: bleach loses activity when exposed to sunlight
  • Bleach can be irritating to mucous membranes, eyes, skin and the respiratory tract: take appropriate measures when using such as wearing gloves, goggles and protecting skin.

Recommendations on using disinfectants containing hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) has long been used as a disinfectant. Favourable characteristics include a broad spectrum of activity, little odour, and minimal environmental concerns due to it breaking down into water and oxygen. Unfortunately, hydrogen peroxide can be corrosive to soft metals and its rapid decomposition can reduce effectiveness as a disinfectant. Hydrogen peroxide can be obtained in concentrations of 3 to 5% through retail stores and in concentrations up to 30% (which is diluted on farm) through farm/agri-business suppliers. Personal protective equipment must be worn when handling/diluting 30% hydrogen peroxide to concentrations of 3 to 5% for use on farm as it can damage skin, mucous membranes and eyes. Newer formulations of hydrogen peroxide products are superior disinfectants.

Stabilized hydrogen peroxide disinfectants contain additives to minimize the decomposition into water and oxygen and increase the time they remain effective as a disinfectant.

Hydrogen peroxide enhanced action formulations (HPEAF) are newer products with increased disinfection action. These products contain additives that improve their ability to remove fats and biofilms, increase their cleaning ability, reduce binding and degradation by other chemicals and improve their effectiveness in cold water. They require lower concentrations of hydrogen peroxide and are more effective in the presence of organic material.

A product referred to as Accelerated hydrogen peroxide (AHP®) manufactured by Virox Technologies Incorporated is a type of HPEAF. This product, among other HPEAF disinfectants, provides producers with safe and effective disinfectant option for a variety of pathogens.

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