Chapter 13 – Chronic Wasting Disease Voluntary Herd Certification Program
13.6 Appendix 2: Sanitary Precautions and Disinfectants – July 2017

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Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is not considered a human pathogen; however, normal sanitary precautions against a possible range of pathogens should be taken. Wear protective clothing, gloves, and face protection when collecting brain specimens. Always avoid direct contact with brain tissues. Personnel at tissue harvesting sites should take precautions to avoid ingesting the agent.

It is recommended that you place the animal's head on a disposable plastic drop sheet. This sheet should be large enough to cover the work area.

Chemical decontamination of equipment and work surfaces with sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) at a concentration of 2% available chlorine, or sodium hydroxide (NaOH) at a concentration of 2 Molars, is recommended. Surfaces and equipment should be left wet (or soaking) with NaOCl or NaOH for at least 1 hour at 20°C.

  • NaOH can be purchased from Fisher Scientific in crystal form. To make a 2 Molar concentration of NaOH, dilute 80 grams NaOH crystals in one litre of water and stir well.


  • NaOCl can be prepared from industrial grade or commercially available bleach (such as Javex/Clorox). Dilute the bleach to provide a final concentration of 2% (20,000 ppm) available chlorine. For example, most commercially available bleaches have 6% available chlorine listed on the label. In this case, mix one part bleach and two parts water (ratio 1:2) to attain the 2% concentration of available chlorine.

Bury or incinerate used disposable protective clothing, gloves, and animal remains.

It is recommended that neurosurgical tools be soaked in NaOH for one hour, removed from the solution, and then wiped with the NaOCl solution for 10 seconds. Dry the tools, as the NaOCl is corrosive.

Note: Other traditional disinfectants, such as Virkon, are not effective against prion agents. Instruments must be disinfected with either sodium hypochlorite or sodium hydroxide.

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