Disinfectant kill claims may vary depending on the pathogens that need to be killed. Among the most common pathogens targeted are bacteria such as listeria, salmonella and staph and viruses such as HIV, herpes and hepatitis.

Other targets include:
Superbugs: According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most threatening antibiotic-resistant bacteria are: CRE (includes E. Coli), Clostridium Difficile (C. diff), and gonorrhea. C. diff is the most common of these in healthcare settings. It causes life-threatening diarrhea. It commonly affects people who are already on antibiotics, which have killed the good bacteria in the digestive system, leaving it vulnerable to these bacteria. It often requires a longer dwell time, at least three minutes.

Influenza: Flu is a common virus that is relatively easy to kill. Many facilities target flu, including healthcare, educational and commercial.
Kill claims are down to 60 seconds for different types of flu, including bird flu, H1N1 and influenza A.

Norovirus: This extremely contagious group of viruses causes inflammation of the stomach and/or intestinal lining and is a concern in healthcare settings, as well as hospitality settings such as cruise ships. Contact times range from one to five minutes.

MRSA: This antibiotic-resistant staph infection mostly affects the skin, but can also cause life-threatening bloodstream infections in hospital settings. Most types of facilities would want to disinfect to kill MRSA, and kill claims range from one to five minutes.

Human Coronavirus: These usually cause mild respiratory symptoms. SARS, which hit in 2003, was a coronavirus. A novel coronavirus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), has emerged as of May 2014 as a new health threat in the United States. Many disinfectants target this virus with dwell times of one to five minutes.

Lisa Ridgely is a freelancer based in Milwaukee. She is the former Deputy Editor of Sanitary Maintenance.

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Types of Disinfectants Used in Healthcare Facilities