Choosing a Disinfectant.

Dylan Lape, DVM
Pork Veterinary Solutions
June 6, 2021

As Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting  different results.” Now you might think what in the world does that have to do with choosing a  disinfectant? Well, I can’t help but think, are we missing something when it comes to disease control?  PRRS costs the U.S. swine industry roughly $664 million a year, but despite our continued efforts we  have PRRS outbreaks year after year. We cannot continue to do the same thing over and over again and  expect not to have breaks! One of the crucial steps that I believe we are failing as an industry is  disinfection! Beyond disinfection occurring, one important thing that needs to be considered is whether  the disinfectant we are choosing is correct for the given situation.

Geography I believe plays a role in many of the challenges we face in the swine industry. Not only  when considering pig density in one area over another but thinking about the climate and weather  patterns in the different areas we raise pigs. Growing up in the hills of Pennsylvania, I thought I knew  what cold was, and then I moved to the Midwest. Indiana winter bites a little different than what I was  used to.

So, what does all of this have to do with choosing a disinfectant? It’s important because certain  disinfectants lose their effectiveness at low temperatures! With the large amount of pigs we raise  across the Midwest and Plains states, it is very important to consider especially during the winter  months when temperatures often reach well below freezing. In these situations, using a Glutaraldehyde  based disinfectant at the labeled rate is throwing money away. Studies show that at -10°C that not even  30 minutes of contact time will provide the needed disinfection. In these cold temperatures choosing a  disinfectant like Virkon™ S would be a much wiser investment as it can provide the needed disinfection at -10 C with only 10 mins of contact time! (See Figure 1.). Could this be contributing to the increase in  outbreaks of PRRS and PEDv during the winter months? Are we truly getting trailers cleaned and  disinfected appropriately throughout winter?

Targeting Specific Pathogens:
Another important factor in deciding on a disinfectant is what pathogen are we attempting to kill?  Not all disinfectants are effective against every pathogen, and not every disinfectant has the data to  back it up. Virkon™ S is driven by independent GLP studies to confirm effectiveness against a wide range  of bacteria, viruses and fungi. Virkon™ S is effective against PRRS, PEDv, ASFv and FMD. On the other  hand, if you’re battling coccidia, using a disinfectant such as bleach may be of more value.

Contact Time:
Another factor when considering disinfectants is the planned use. Boot baths are commonly used at  farms often times at the entrance to sites, barns, or rooms within barns. One thing to consider here is  that most disinfectants are labeled with boot bath instructions, but in order to get the expected  disinfection you would need 10 minutes of contact time in the boot bath. Now I don’t know about you,  but I’ve never seen anyone stand in a boot bath for 10 minutes. Virkon™ S on the other hand is  designed for the ability to have shorter contact times such as 60 seconds for specific pathogens†. This  could provide an effective value beyond the “feel good” effect when we see producers using boot baths.

Perhaps as an industry we need to take a closer look at our biosecurity plans and the effectiveness  of them. We are facing more and more disease pressure it seems every winter. Could something as  simple as choosing a more appropriate disinfectant for the job we are trying to complete make an  impact?

It’s clear that in cold weather certain disinfectants lose their effectiveness. In this case it is likely  many transport trucks and other outdoor surfaces are not receiving proper disinfection. Could this be  why we continue to see increased outbreaks of PRRS, PEDv, and other viruses throughout the winter?  It’s clear that something we are doing isn’t working, so instead of continuing to do the same thing and  expecting different results, maybe it’s time to try something different like Virkon™ S.


Please consult the Virkon™ S product container label for a comprehensive list of organisms and directions for use. † Efficacy claim is limited to the specified viruses at the noted dilution rate, contact time and/or temperature.