Family Flublog

Saturday, March 04, 2006

What kills avian flu virus (and other flu viruses)?

Fortunately, the influenza virus is not all that hard to kill.

---Heat will do it, 160 degrees F. or higher. Your dishwasher, washer and dryer and stove are lethal to the virus on surfaces at this temperature.
---To be safe, OSHA recommends cooking poultry to an internal temperature of 180 degrees to be sure it's fully cooked clear through.
---Alcohol will kill the virus, either in a 70% solution or in a waterless hand cleanser that has at least 60% alcohol content
---Lysol and other antiseptic cleansers that are labeled effective against viruses will kill it on hard surfaces if used as directed. Be sure the label specifically states that the product kills influenza virus, not just bacteria. A virus is not a bacteria.
---Chlorine bleach in a dilution of a quarter cup bleach to a gallon of water will kill influenza virus, as will chlorine-containing scouring powder. (Bleach solution deteriorates quickly, so you have to mix a new batch every day.)
---Even plain sunlight will kill the virus after a period of several hours of direct exposure.
---Time will kill it if it's dried out: after two days or so, dried-up virus in dust dies. In moist conditions, however, it can survive much longer.

But you can't kill the virus by

---Freezing or refrigerating it
---Washing it off with soap and water.

This is important to understand: To be sure, wash your hands thoroughly, but know that you are mechanically removing the virus from your skin by friction, then rinsing it down the drain rather than killing it. This is true even if you use antiseptic soaps, so don't bother using a special soap.

If you are not thorough with your scrubbing and rinsing, virus particles will remain between your fingers and around and under your nails. To be sure you've scrubbed long enough, sing the alphabet song through twice before you put your hands under the water to rinse them. Washing your hands is still the best way to prevent flu, just be sure you do it properly or it won't work.

Stay tuned for more tips about avian flu prevention.


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