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April 21, 2003
Volume 81, Number 16
CENEAR 81 16 p. 9
ISSN 0009-2347


PUBLIC HEALTH

Common Disinfectants May Slow SARS

ANN THAYER

With the identification of a coronavirus as the causative agent behind severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) still offer largely commonsense guidelines for controlling infection.

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OUTBREAK Health workers in China spray disinfectant. AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE PHOTO
Coronaviruses can survive in the environment for up to three hours, CDC says. It recommends frequent hand washing or alcohol-based hand rubs, frequent use of common household cleaners for disinfecting surfaces, and disposable gloves and masks for patients or patient care.

Cleaning products maker JohnsonDiversey notes that while no specific products have been tested against SARS, it offers many EPA-registered quaternary ammonium germicide products that kill similar viruses.

Antec International says its EPA-approved Virkon disinfectant--a potassium persulfate oxidizer used against the Norwalk virus and foot-and-mouth disease--has been proven to work against Coronaviridae. The company says Chinese authorities have come to it for help.

Similarly, Ecolab's customers have been looking to develop disinfection procedures and to train personnel. And Air Liquide's Anios Laboratories subsidiary was involved in disinfecting a hospital and the international airport in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Meanwhile, producers of CDC- and WHO-recommended N-95 respirators that filter out 95% of particles down to 0.3mm have seen demand rise rapidly. In response, 3M, for example, has increased production.

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