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ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #242846

Title: Disinfectants and Prions

item Silva, Christopher - Chris

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/14/2009
Publication Date: 9/14/2009
Citation: Silva, C.J. 2009. Disinfectants and Prions. [Abstract]. AOAC Annual Meeting & Exposition S-401. p63

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Prions are novel pathogens that are believed to be composed solely of protein. They are capable of converting a normal cellular protein into the infectious isoform and thereby propagating an infection. Prion infections are characterized by a long asymptomatic incubation period followed by a relatively rapid onset of symptoms that quickly results in death. In humans, this disease process can last decades. Even in experimental animals the disease takes months to develop. There is no effective treatment or cure for a prion disease. Prions are remarkably stable entities. They are resistant to formalin, alcohol, and typical autoclave inactivation. The minimum infectious dose is estimated to be approximately 1,000,000 molecules (1 attomole). Since prions are incapable of replicating outside of a host, they tend to be found in complex matrices, which make inactivation more difficult. Bioassay is the most reliable means of quantifying prions after inactivation. A number of potential prion inactivants have been reported in the scientific literature, but none have been subjected to formal regulatory review. Since the EPA has declared prions to be pests, in the future the issue of prion inactivation will be resolved by regulatory agencies.