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Is bleach a solution to CWD?

Could bleach be a solution to CWD in deer?

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Is a common household chemical a solution to chronic wasting disease (CWD)? A new study, “Inactivation of chronic wasting disease prions using sodium hypochlorite,” published by PLOS One suggests that could just be the case. During the study, sodium hypochlorite—or bleach as it’s commonly known as—was found to “inactivate prion agents,” including those that cause scrapie, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Further, researchers discovered that “a five-minute treatment with a 40% dilution of household bleach was effective at inactivating CWD seeding activity from stainless-steel wires and CWD-infected brain homogenates” though bleach wasn’t effective on solid tissues.

As goHUNT has previously reported, CWD is a fatal disease that impacts deer, elk, moose and caribou across North America. It’s been found in 26 states, three Canadian provinces, South Korea, Norway, Sweden and Finland and many states have created CWD Management Areas and action plans to combat the spread of this disease. It’s one of six known animal prion diseases – five of which affect humans; mad cow disease is one of the most well-known.

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While many different methods have been tested to inactivate this prion—irradiation, heat, autoclaving, chemicals and enzymes—according to researchers, those have had “mixed success.” Bleach is widely available and cheap. It can be used to decontaminate knives, saws and other equipment used by hunters or meat processers during field dressing and meat processing of harvested animals.  This is especially important because, during the study, researchers confirmed that CWD prions bind to stainless steel wires; however, using bleach inactivated these prions.

What does this mean for halting the spread of CWD? Stay tuned to goHUNT for further information. 

1 Comment

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Terry S. - posted 2 months ago on 11-16-2019 03:41:54 pm

i think some hunters that don't read this carefully are going to think this is a cure all for cwd tse contamination. IT'S NOT!

first off, it would take a strong bleach type sodium hypochlorite, that is NOT your moms bleach she uses in her clothes, and store bought stuff.

Concentrated bleach is an 8.25 percent solution of sodium hypochlorite, up from the “regular bleach” concentration of 5.25 percent.Nov 1, 2013

second off, the study states plainly;

''We found that a five-minute treatment with a 40% dilution of household bleach was effective at inactivating CWD seeding activity from stainless-steel wires and CWD-infected brain homogenates. However, bleach was not able to inactivate CWD seeding activity from solid tissues in our studies.''

''We initially tested brains from two CWD-infected mice and one uninfected mouse using 40% bleach for 5 minutes. The results from these experiments showed almost no elimination of prion seeding activity (Table 4). We then increased the treatment time to 30 minutes and tested 40% and 100% bleach treatments. Again, the results were disappointing and showed less than a 10-fold decrease in CWD-seeding activity (Table 4). Clearly, bleach is not able to inactivate prions effectively from small brain pieces under the conditions tested here.''

''We found that both the concentration of bleach and the time of treatment are critical for inactivation of CWD prions. A 40% bleach treatment for 5 minutes successfully eliminated detectable prion seeding activity from both CWD-positive brain homogenate and stainless-steel wires bound with CWD. However, even small solid pieces of CWD-infected brain were not successfully decontaminated with the use of bleach.''

i think with all the fear from recent studies, and there are many, of potential, or likelihood of zoonosis, if it has not already happened as scjd, i think this study came out to help out on some of that fear, that maybe something will help, but the study plainly states it's for sure not a cure all for exposure and contamination of the cwd tse prion on surface materials. imo...terry


NIH Household Bleach Inactivates Chronic Wasting Disease Prions Strategy Appears Feasible for Decontaminating Hunting, Meat Processing Equipment


EFSA Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) Update on chronic wasting disease (CWD) III


Southwest Wisconsin CWD, Deer and Predator Study

kind regards, terry