Disinfectants bactericidal, fungicidal or viricidal?

By on 04 May 2020

The hottest topics since the novel Corona virus (COVID-19) started affecting the globe are disinfectants, sanitizers, face masks and gloves. One of the main concerns to us, as microbiologists, is the interchangeable manner in which the terms bactericidal, fungicidal and viricidal are used. Another main concern is the assumption that disinfectants and sanitizers are capable of being bactericidal AND fungicidal AND viricidal by default and it is rarely stated on the label against which organisms these compounds have been tested. This is assuming a “one-size-fits-all” approach. There is, however, a considerable difference between a compound that is bactericidal, fungicidal and/or viricidal as indicated below:

  • Bactericidal: a compound or condition that destroys bacteria.
  • Fungicidal: a compound or condition that destroys fungi.
  • Viricidal: a compound or condition that destroys viruses.

“What is the difference between bacteria, fungi and viruses” you ask… germs are germs! Unfortunately, this is not the case. This would be like stating that all animals have the same characteristics, whether it be birds, fish or wild cats. It is the same with bacteria, fungi and viruses. They each have their own characteristics that, in most cases, differ vastly from each other.

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