Preventing Emerging Infectious Diseases in Our Communities

What Can Be Done to Help Prevent Emerging Infectious Diseases?  

Emerging infectious diseases have become more and more prevalent in recent years, with the World Health Organization (WHO) documenting around 40 new diseases since the 1970s, including SARS, MERS, Ebola, Avian Influenza, Swine Influenza, the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which caused COVID-19, most recently, Mpox

Emerging infectious diseases have become an increasing concern in the twenty-first century because of their global health, social, and economic impacts. 

With people traveling much more frequently and far greater distances than in the past, living in more densely populated areas, and coming into closer contact with wild animals, the potential for emerging infectious diseases to spread rapidly and cause global epidemics is a significant concern. Fortunately, some measures can be taken to help prevent the spread of these diseases and protect public health. 

What Are Emerging Infectious Diseases? 

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) defines emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) as “infectious diseases that have newly appeared in a population or have existed but are rapidly increasing in incidence or geographic range.”  

There are several possible causes of these emerging pathogens, including deforestation, urban sprawl, industrial agricultural practices (particularly those involving livestock), population growth, and changes in human behavior. Additionally, the rise of globalization has made it easier for people to travel around the world and can help spread these viruses or bacteria across countries or continents much faster than before. 

The most common types of pathogens that cause EIDs include viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. Many of these organisms have mutated over time or adapted to new environments, enabling them to cause disease in humans even if they had not previously been able to do so. For example, the H1N1 virus (Swine Flu) that first appeared in 2009 was a novel strain of the influenza A virus that has infected millions worldwide. Other examples include HIV/AIDS and SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).  

How do emerging diseases become established? First, the pathogen has to be introduced into a vulnerable population. It must also have the ability to spread readily from person to person and cause disease. The infection also has to sustain itself within the population, that is, more and more people continue to become infected.

Understanding the Factors of Infectious Disease Emergence and Re-emergence 

The emergence of new infectious diseases and the re-emergence of “old” infectious diseases are major global health concerns. To understand why some infectious diseases become more prevalent, it is important to look at the factors contributing to their emergence or re-emergence. 

Some result from natural processes, such as the evolution of emerging pathogens over time, but many result from human behavior and practices. As the human population continues to expand into new geographical regions, the possibility that humans will come into close contact with animal species that are potential hosts of an infectious agent increases. When that factor is combined with increases in human density and mobility, it is easy to see that this combination poses a severe threat to human health.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is another factor that results in the re-emergence of diseases. According to the CDC, AMR “happens when germs like bacteria or fungi develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. That means the germs are not killed and continue to grow. Resistant infections can be complicated, and sometimes impossible, to treat.” In the U.S., more than 2.8 million antimicrobial-resistant infections occur yearly, resulting in more than 35,000 deaths. 

What is the Difference Between Antimicrobial and Antibiotic Resistance?

According to the WHO, “Antibiotics are medicines used to prevent and treat bacterial infections. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in response to the use of these medicines. Bacteria, not humans, become antibiotic-resistant. These bacteria may then infect humans and are harder to treat than non-resistant bacteria. Antimicrobial resistance is a broader term, encompassing resistance to drugs to treat infections caused by other microbes as well, such as parasites (e.g., malaria), viruses (e.g., HIV), and fungi (e.g., Candida.)” 

The growing problem of antibiotic resistance represents a major global health burden. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics. 

Related: Why Does MRSA Spread Easily Among Athletes? 

What Is An Emerging Viral Pathogen Claim? 

When rare or novel viruses cause disease outbreaks, there may be few, if any, disinfectants that have been registered for use against that specific pathogen. To prepare for situations like these, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created a protocol, the Emerging Viral Pathogen (EVP) Guidance, which enables the use of certain EPA-registered disinfectant products against emerging viral pathogens not identified on the product label. Based on previous EPA-approved claims for specific hard-to-kill viruses, certain EPA-registered disinfectant products, such as Vital Oxide, are authorized to make statements about their product’s expected efficacy against the emerging virus.

The EVP guidance divides viruses into three categories: 

Tier 1: Enveloped viruses are the easiest to inactivate. When disinfectants damage their lipid envelope, the virus is no longer infectious. 

Tier 2: Large, nonenveloped viruses are encased in protein capsids, making them more difficult to inactivate than enveloped viruses. 

Tier 3: Small, nonenveloped viruses are the hardest to inactivate. Their protein capsids and small size make them less vulnerable to disinfectants than other viruses.

Vital Oxide meets the EPA’s requirements for emerging viral pathogens showing efficacy against enveloped and non-enveloped viruses, both large and small. 

What is the EPA’s List Q? 

List Q is the EPA's Disinfectants for Emerging Viral Pathogens (EVPs) List. It includes registered disinfectants expected to reduce the spread, on treated hard, non-porous surfaces, of novel viral pathogens that cause outbreaks, such as Mpox (Monkeypox). 

Because some viruses are more difficult to inactivate than others, disinfectant labels may have different directions for different pathogens. Since rare or novel diseases may not be listed on a product’s label, you need to determine which directions to follow to kill the EVP. 

How to Use Vital Oxide to kill Emerging Viral Pathogens 

Vital Oxide is approved for use on Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 viruses. For effective disinfection of hard, nonporous surfaces (HN), follow label directions for Canine Parvovirus; the recommended contact time is 10 minutes. 

Can Disinfectants Kill the Mpox (Monkeypox) Virus on Surfaces? 

Mpox is a viral disease that can be spread between people or between people and certain animals, most commonly rodents. The current outbreak of Mpox is not the first to occur in the U.S., but it is notable for the number of cases that have been reported. Experts at the CDC determined that Mpox can spread from person to person in different ways, one of which is “touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids.” 

While the primary exposure route is through contact with the bodily fluids of symptomatic individuals, it’s also possible to transmit the virus through contaminated surfaces where virus particles may have been shed by someone who was infected, also known as fomite transmission. A study by the CDC found that the Monkeypox virus can survive on surfaces for 15 days or more. 

We’re proud to offer an EPA-registered disinfectant that kills 99.9% of viruses and bacteria and is on the EPA’s List Q as a disinfectant approved for use against Mpox. 

Understanding the Role of Disinfectants in Preventing Emerging Infectious Diseases 

With an ever-increasing number of viruses making their way into human populations, it’s important to understand how we can best prevent their spread. Disinfectants like Vital Oxide can play an important role in controlling emerging diseases by eliminating pathogens and preventing them from spreading.

Good Hygiene Practices   

Good hygiene practices are essential in preventing any type of infection—not just those caused by viruses or bacteria but also parasitic infections as well. Good hygiene practices include washing hands frequently with soap and water, avoiding close contact with people who have symptoms of infection (such as coughing or sneezing), covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, avoiding touching your face unless you have just washed your hands thoroughly with soap and water, and staying home if you feel unwell or have signs of a fever or respiratory illness such as coughing or difficulty breathing.  

Prevention Measures 

Once a pathogen is detected early enough to prevent its further spread, it is important to take preventive measures such as disinfecting surfaces with an EPA-approved disinfectant like Vital Oxide. It's also important to practice good hygiene habits, such as washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoiding contact with people (or animals) who are sick. 

Disinfection Protocols 

Finally, disinfection protocols should be used to kill or inactivate any microorganisms present on surfaces or objects that could cause an infection. Disinfecting is key in preventing the spread of emerging infectious diseases—especially those caused by viruses—and can help protect vulnerable populations from serious illness or death due to these potentially devastating illnesses. 

Disinfectants must meet specific requirements for killing both enveloped (such as influenza) and non-enveloped (such as coronaviruses) viruses, both large and small (such as rhinovirus). 

The effectiveness of any given disinfectant depends on factors such as the type of microorganism being targeted, the concentration of the disinfectant, and the length of exposure time between the microorganism and the disinfectant. For example, some viruses may require longer dwell times than others for successful elimination. It’s important to note that not all disinfectants are equally effective against all types of microorganisms; therefore, it is important to choose a product that is specifically designed to target your particular pathogen or class of pathogens. 

Vital Oxide is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent that is effective against a wide range of pathogens, including H1N1; MRSA; HIV; Ebola virus; and others. 

Vital Oxide meets the EPA’s requirements for emerging viral pathogens, showing efficacy against large and small enveloped and non-enveloped viruses (including SARS-CoV-2), making it an excellent option for disinfecting public areas such as healthcare facilities, schools, daycare centers, and other places where people gather together in close proximity. 

Infection Prevention is Vital 

It is important for businesses and healthcare providers alike to be aware of potential risks posed by emerging infectious diseases so proper preventative measures can be taken to mitigate the spread. 

The emergence of new pathogens has become increasingly common due to human population growth and global travel and trade networks resulting in increased exposure between humans and animals that carry these pathogens. No single strategy will completely eliminate emerging infectious diseases; however, we can take steps to minimize their spread across communities worldwide. 

To effectively control emerging diseases, it’s important to detect them early and enact prevention measures, including disinfecting surfaces with an EPA-approved disinfectant like Vital Oxide and following public health guidelines. By taking these steps, we can help prevent the further spread of deadly infectious diseases around the world.

Want to learn more about using Vital Oxide in your business, school, home, or healthcare facility? Interested in a white-label program? We’d love to hear from you. CONTACT US TODAY.
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