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New Disinfectant Could Help Hospitals Fight Germs

Solution is touted as less corrosive, cheaper and more effective than existing products

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers report that they've developed a new formula for a disinfectant that's effective against bacteria, viruses, fungi and even prions, the proteins that cause mad cow disease.

The fast-acting disinfectant, they say, could be especially helpful to hospitals, where it could, for instance, be used to rid surgical instruments of germs.

According to a report in the February issue of the Journal of General Virology, the disinfectant kills a variety of pathogens. Examples include those that are resistant to ordinary disinfectants, such as the germs that cause a tuberculosis-like illness in people with weakened immune systems and viruses that apparently could cause polio, the report says.

Even prions, which can malfunction and cause diseases that poke holes in the brain, fell victim to the disinfectant, the researchers report.

"Standard formulations that eliminate prions are very corrosive," the study's lead researcher, Dr. Michael Beekes, of the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, said in news release from the journal's publisher. "The solution we've come up with is not only safer and more material-friendly, but easy to prepare, cheap and highly effective against a wide variety of infectious agents."

The researchers report that the disinfectant combines an alkaline detergent formula with alcohol.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more on prion diseases.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Society for General Microbiology, news release, Jan. 19, 2010

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