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National Farm and Facility Level Biosecurity User Guide for the Equine Sector
Annex 14: Selected disinfectants

This is a short list of selected disinfectants suitable for routine cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces and equipment.
Active agent Product examples Contact time Advantages Disadvantages Comments
Hypochlorite Bleach.
1:10-1:50 dilution of household bleach with clean water
10 min
  • Broad spectrum effective against most resistant organisms (enveloped viruses, bacterial spores, 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 Accel
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, ringworm.
  • Inhibited by organic debris
  • Common environmental disinfectant, but 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.

Product selection and use

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 primarily only 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.

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.

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