Citric acid can disinfect in FMD, African swine fever outbreaks

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Citrus fruits

Citric acid can be used as a disinfectant during an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease or African swine fever if federally registered disinfectants are unavailable.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted in October 2012 an application by the Department of Agriculture to allow the use during emergencies of citric acid products as disinfectants against the viruses that cause those diseases. The EPA announced the decision, known as a quarantine exemption, in a letter sent to the USDA Oct. 22.

The AVMA adopted a policy advocating for a similar change about one month after the EPA letter was sent, although the policy enacted by the AVMA Executive Board was limited to securing an exemption for use of citric acid as an FMD virus disinfectant.

Dr. Janver D. Krehbiel, AVMA Executive Board chair, said the federal departments’ action accomplishes the goal the AVMA wanted to reach, although he noted that the change is scheduled to expire Oct. 22, 2015. The policy would be needed again if the exemption were to expire or be canceled.

AVMA volunteers and staff did not know the EPA had granted the exemption until after the AVMA enacted its policy, Dr. Krehbiel said. But he said the AVMA and federal departments have committed to work together on such policies.

Dr. Krehbiel noted that the need for emergency use of citric acid as a disinfectant against foot-and-mouth disease was discussed in May 2012 at the 4th International Animal By-Products Symposium, and the AVMA Animal Agricul­ture Liaison Committee began considering the issue after the meeting. He said the quarantine exemption will provide a good option if an FMD or African swine fever outbreak occurs in the U.S.

The AALC likely will re-evaluate the AVMA policy “Citric Acid as a Disinfectant for FMDv” and make a recommendation for the Executive Board to consider at its April meeting, Dr. Krehbiel said.