Public Health Emergencies Caused by Microbial Pests
Antimicrobials and disinfectants play an important role in public health and safety. These products are used against microbial pests, such as viruses and bacteria. Find selected EPA-registered disinfectants.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people, and others, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals. While animal coronaviruses that initially infect animals can spread to people, as is the case with COVID-19, this kind of spread is rare.
Avian flu, sometimes called bird flu, is an infection that occurs naturally and chiefly in birds. Infections with these viruses can occur in humans, but the risk is generally low for most people.
To help prevent the spread of avian flu viruses, EPA registers antimicrobial pesticide products (sanitizers and disinfectants) that may be used to kill avian flu virus on surfaces. These products are typically used by the poultry industry to disinfect their facilities. Read more about avian flu.
Prions: Certain proteins found in cells of the central nervous system of humans and animals may exist in abnormal, infectious forms called prions. Prions share many characteristics of viruses and may cause fatal diseases, such as Mad Cow Disease.
Anthrax: Biological agents can cause a threat to public health and national security. Bacillus anthracis, which causes the disease anthrax, is one example. EPA has issued emergency exemptions for several pesticides used in anthrax spore decontamination efforts, including bleach, chlorine dioxide, ethylene oxide, hydrogen peroxide and peroxyacetic acid, methyl bromide, paraformaldehyde, and vaporized hydrogen peroxide.