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Burt Tejada

I am ... very happy with your plans, the organization that you have put into it and I am extremely happy with the response I have gotten from you when I have encountered a problem.
It sure does save money. At the same time it allows me and others like me to experience making the cage for our animal (animals) that we care so much about. I think that when someone takes the time to sit down and make something like this for their animal it really shows how much they care for them and respect them.

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Regards and best to all our Green Iguana friends, Lance and Joey Portwood Glidden, Texas ".

 


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"Keeping the Bad Things at Bay"

Information on Disinfectants Commonly Used with Reptiles

by Shannon Cassuto

With all of the disinfectants available at your local supermarket, discount store, pet store as well as veterinary supply catalogs, selecting the right one for the job can be a daunting task. In reality, this thought process may be wrong all together. You may need more than one type of disinfectant to get the job done depending on what type of "nasty" you need to kill.

Poor sanitation, including inadequate disinfection, is commonly associated with poor health. As you will read below, there is a difference between routine cleaning and thorough disinfection.

First of all, some simple definitions should be reviewed.

Antiseptic:
chemicals used to inhibit or prevent the growth of microbes on living tissue. The maximum usable concentration of an antiseptic is limited by the risk of skin and mucous membrane irritation.

Bactericide (or Germicide):
kills bacteria. Labeling of bactericides should be read carefully as sometimes they may be vague. A bactericide (germicide) does not automatically kill spores, viruses, tuberculosis or fungi.

Bacteriostat:
inhibits the growth of bacteria.

Biocide:
kills living organisms.

Detergent:
contains free ions (leaves film on surface).

Disinfectant:
chemicals used to inhibit or prevent the growth of microbes on inanimate objects (cages, water bowls, etc.). A disinfectant claim is granted by the EPA to any solution which will destroy Slaph. aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Salmonella cholerasuis. A disinfectant label does not imply or include efficiency against viruses, mycobacterium, protozoa or heat-resistant bacterial spores.

Sanitize:
reduce the number of microbes to a safe level. Sanitizers should not leave a harmful residue.

Sporicide:
kills spores (fungi and bacteria).

Sterilize:
eliminate all microbes (inactivates or kills) including heat-resistant bacterial spores by boiling, autoclaving or exposure to toxic chemicals. Solutions containing chlorine or glutaraldehyde are frequently labeled as chemical sterilants.

Viricide:
kills viruses (enveloped/lipophilic are typically easier to kill than non-enveloped viruses). An EPA approved label claim must state which viruses the agent has been approved effective against.

Cleaning is the actual physical removal of organic debris. An example of a cleaning agent is the liquid dish soap found in the kitchen. These products help penetrate and break-up stubborn materials so they do not interfere with the function of disinfectants, but they do not disinfect. Killing bacteria, fungi and viruses is the job of a disinfectant. While disinfectants will not sterilize the cage or water dish, they will greatly reduce the pathogen numbers more effectively than cleaners. It is imperative to remember to rinse all soap or detergent thoroughly and never to mix soaps and disinfectants unless the disinfectant instructions specifically state that it is safe. Keep in mind that some materials such as plastic may require additional rinsing as they tend to retain some of the cleaning/disinfecting agents.

Now that we know a little more, we can start selecting the appropriate products. The selection of the disinfectant should be based on the job it will be required to do. The ideal disinfectant is one that is broad spectrum (meaning it will eliminate bacteria, viruses, protozoa, fungi and spores) and is nonirritating, nontoxic, non-corrosive and inexpensive. Some factors to consider are what you need to kill, what animal you are using the product around, what materials it may come into contact with, the environment, and expense.

Chlorine
disinfectants as well as iodine disinfectants belong to the halogen group. Chlorine eliminates viruses and is effective against fungi, bacteria and algae. However, chlorine is not effective against spores. Household bleach (5.25% NaCIO) is cheap and readily available. It is typically diluted using 1 to 3 ounces bleach per quart of water. If you are unsure that all bleach has been rinsed from an item, add some DeChlor to the final rinse water. DeChlor is an inexpensive product used to remove chlorine and chloral-nines in fish aquariums. Recently, "Ultra" bleaches containing lye (sodium hydroxide) have been introduced to the market. Please read all labels carefully if this ingredient is of concern to you.

Organic material such as feces may inactivate chlorine disinfectants, therefore, surfaces must be clean before using this type of disinfectant. In order to obtain maximum results, chlorine disinfectants must remain in contact with surfaces for several minutes, a pH of the mix water should be between 6 and 8, and application temperatures should not fall below 65 degrees. One last thing, bleach and ammonia should never be mixed as it will result in very toxic chlorine gases.

Iodine and iodophores are simply chemical compounds which are sometimes included in surgical scrubs. They are bactericidal (germicidal), sporicidal, virucidal and fungicidal. Like chlorine, it is inactivated in the presence of organic material and must be applied numerous times in order to thoroughly disinfect. "Tamed" iodines, unlike iodone tinctures, generally do not irritate tissues and are found in products like Betadyne, Povidone, Wecodyne, Virac, Prepodyne, One Step and losan. Keep in mind that some iodine-based products can cause staining and retention of some of the cleaning agents and disinfectants, especially with plastics.

Chlorhexadine a biguanide, is one of the more widely used disinfectants. While it is considered a bactericide (germicide), fungicide and virucide, it may be less effective against these agents than other disinfectants. However, it does maintain effectiveness in the presence of some organic material (cleaning before apeffective, chlorhexidine must remain in contact with the surface plication is still recommended) and is nonirritating to tissues. To be for at least five minutes. Also, hard or alkaline water will cause precipitation of the active disinfecting ingredients. Chlorhexidine disinfectants include Nolvasan, Virosan, Chlorhex, Chlorasan, Hibistat and Phisohex. Also, Nolvasan is a very effective and safe wound wash when diluted to manufacturers specifications and is not known to leave toxic fumes if residues are left in an enclosure.

Alcohols are commonly used topical disinfectants and are effective against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria and most viruses. They are not effective against bacterial spores and some viruses. Alcohols require more time to work, do not penetrate organic material and irritate tissues. Lysol, which contains 79% ethyl alcohol, is a common topical disinfectant (see Lysol reference in phenols). It should be noted that isopropyl alcohol is not considered to be a disinfectant but is commonly used at the site of an injection to remove loose organic debris.

Oxidizing agents like hydrogen peroxide are often used to clean wounds and its activity is greatest against anaerobic bacteria. It is not virucidal and is sometimes damaging to tissues. Blended and/or stabilized peroxides can be used to disinfect equipment surfaces. Products like Hyperox and VirkonS are effective against a much broader range of pathogens including viruses, vegetative bacteria, fungi and bacterial spores.

Phenol is commonly found in mouthwashes, scrub soaps and surface disinfectants, and is the main disinfectant found in household disinfectants. Phenols are effective against bacteria and most viruses but are ineffective against spores and non-enveloped viruses. Phenols maintain their activity in the presence of organic matter. Phenolic disinfectants include Lysol, Pine Sol, O-Syl, Septicol and Hexachlorophene. Phenols are very TOXIC to reptiles.

Literature Cited
Johnson, Kathy. "Classes of Disinfectants and Their Uses," December 1996.

Kaplan, Melissa. "Information on Disinfectants from the Reptile Veterinary Literature," March 2000. University of Nebraska. "Selection and Use of Disinfectants" November 2000.

This chart published electronically by Cooperative Extension. Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, November 2000.

Disinfectant Selection Table
Compound Chlorine
0.01-5%
Iodine
lodophor
.005-.05%
Chlorhexadine
0.05-0.5%
Alcohol
70-95%
Oxidizing
0.2-3%
Phenol
0.2-3%
Examples Clorox Betadyne Nolvasan Lysol VirkonS Pine-sol
Bactericidal Good Good Very good Good Good Good
Virucidal Very good Good Very good Good Good Fair
Bacterial Spores Fair Fair Poor Fair Fair-good Poor
Fungicidal Good Good Fair-good Fair Fair Good
Protozoal Parasites Fair Poor Poor Poor Poor Poor
Effective in organic matter Poor Fair Fair Fair Poor Good
Inactivated by soap No Some No No No No
Effective in hard water Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Contact time 5-30 10-30 5-10 10-30 10-30 10-30
Residual activity Poor Poor Good Fair Poor Poor

Reprinted from

The Cold Blooded News
The Newsletter of the Colorado Herpetological Society
Volume 29, Number 9; September, 2002

 

Mark Chapple is the Author of "How to build enclosures for reptiles"
Find out how to build homemade snake cages and lizard enclosures as well as arboreal cages. Full color pictures, detailed diagrams, hints and tips and easy to follow, step-by-step instructions.
http://www.reptile-cage-plans.com