Experts clarify several doubts on how to eliminate microorganisms that can be harmful to health
In times of the new coronavirus pandemic, sanitizing and disinfecting environments has become an essential habit. But are you doing it right? Have you ever wondered if it is necessary to continue with the same care as at the beginning of the year? To clarify all these doubts and guide the correct way to maintain good hygiene and safety, Minha Vida ao Vivo – with the support of Lysol – received the biomedical doctor Jaqueline Goes and the infectologist Alexandre Barbosa.
To watch in full, click here.
Below, see some questions answered by the experts.
My Life: What are the main diseases caused by viruses and bacteria?
Alexandre Barbosa: There are thousands of diseases caused by these pathogens – viruses and bacteria. We can divide, to make it more didactic, into respiratory infections: those that cause flu, colds and pneumonia, and also skin infections, which can lead to abscesses, cellulite, boils, infections that affect the skin and deeper tissues.
These diseases caused by viruses and bacteria can also cause gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea, an infection in the intestine. Finally, another major target of these bacterial infections is the urinary tract. These viral and bacterial infections can lead to cystitis and urine infections. There are also other organs or systems affected, such as the brain, the liver, among others.
There are a number of viruses involved in this: in the respiratory part, we know a lot about the influenza virus, which causes the flu, and today the new coronavirus is an example (Sars-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19). But there are, literally, thousands of other viruses that cause respiratory infections, as well as bacteria that lead to the same type of problem.
My Life: How important is disinfection to protect against these viruses and bacteria?
Alexandre Barbosa: The disinfection of some objects or surfaces that we have frequent contact with is very important because one of the possible routes of transmission of these respiratory diseases is transmission through contact. Taking the example of Covid-19, the main form of transmission is respiratory – by droplets, when we are talking. The droplets come out of my mouth and fall into the mouth, nose or eyes of the person who is talking to me. If I am infected, there is a chance of transmitting the disease.
Another very common way is when the droplets are on surfaces such as tables, handrails, grocery bags or other objects and I, who is not infected, put my hand on those surfaces that are with the virus or with the infectious material and take it to my mouth. There, transmission by contact occurs. It is not only the Covid-19 virus that is transmitted this way, but influenza is also a virus that is transmitted this way. There are viruses that also cause conjunctivitis. Most viral conjunctivitis is also transmitted by contact.
Therefore, by disinfecting surfaces and killing these germs – be they viruses or bacteria, you eliminate – or at least greatly decrease – the chance of transmission by contact.
My Life: What is the difference between cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing environments and what is the best option when it comes to viruses or bacteria?
Jaqueline Goes: When we do the cleaning process we remove the dust, which is the most superficial dirt. When we do the cleaning, we work with some agents (such as detergents) that do a little more specific removal, mainly of bacterial or viral agents. This cleaning reduces the amount of these agents on living surfaces or on inanimate surfaces, such as objects that we touch.
When we work with disinfection, we are referring to a level of inactivation of these pathogens – which are those that cause diseases, including viruses and bacteria. In the process, we were able to increase protection. Therefore, when we do a disinfection, we are inactivating these pathogens, and disinfection can reduce these microorganisms in much higher percentages.
Disinfectants, for example, reduce these agents by a much higher percentage than when it comes to cleaning only. And it varies a lot about which pathogen we are treating in the environment. In some situations cleaning is not enough and hygiene can contain or reduce it, but disinfection is ideal for people to have a drastic reduction in these pathogens.
My Life: Do disinfectants, therefore, inactivate viruses and bacteria?
Jaqueline Goes: Exact. Disinfectants normally act on the surface of these pathogens and, between viruses and bacteria, we work with the surface of the viral particle (in the case of viruses) or the cell wall (in the case of bacteria). Disinfectants are chemicals that attack the surface of these particles or cells and, by making this attack, are able to disrupt the pathogens.
When we work beyond the surface level, we can also have the inactivation of some enzymes, which are molecules within the cells necessary for it to live or for the viral particle to be able to exercise its function or its movements in the environment. And by denaturing these enzymes and taking away the function of these proteins, we actually end up eliminating the pathogen.
My Life: Does the disinfectant act instantly to inactivate viruses and bacteria or does it take a few minutes to be effective?
Jaqueline Goes: Disinfectants have broad forms of action. Ordinary disinfectants take 10 to 30 minutes to act. Lysol disinfectant, however, has a faster action. From 30 seconds to 2 minutes is enough if we want to do the sanitization and sanitization process. Just apply the product and leave it in contact with the surface for that period, and we will have sanitization – which is hygiene.
When we leave it for a longer time – and this varies from 5 to 10 minutes in contact with the product – we have the disinfection process, which is a 99.9% reduction in the agents that can cause diseases, including bacteria and viruses, also including the coronavirus.
Do you want to ask more questions about how to proceed with daily hygiene and disinfection? click here and watch the live in full!