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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
USDA FAQ's and resources about coronavirus (COVID-19).  LEARN MORE

Importance of Cleaning & Disinfection

Cleaning and disinfection (C&D) involves the use of physical or chemical processes to reduce, remove, inactivate, or destroy pathogenic microorganisms. C&D procedures are crucial in controlling the spread or transfer of microorganisms between animals, between locations, or to people. The potential for spread or transfer of microorganisms can occur from the direct or indirect contamination of equipment, facilities, vehicles, people and the movement of animals or animal products.

C&D processes vary: many factors affect the efficacy of the process including the method or product selected, the organism involved, and a number of other environmental factors, such as temperature, organic load, or water hardness. The procedures necessary will vary depending on the situation. No single method is adequate for all situations.

As an accredited veterinarian, you should be prepared to advise on the selection of an appropriate disinfectant for various disease threats or situations, make recommendations for disinfection procedures and techniques to be used, understand any limitations of the procedure, and provide guidance for the safety of animals and people during the process.

In some situations (e.g., inspection and movement of animals, infectious disease outbreaks) your duties may involve assuring cleaning and disinfection procedures are implemented properly. For example, when dealing with certificates of veterinary inspection and the movement of animals, the accredited veterinarian must be prepared to certify that transportation vehicles have been properly cleaned and disinfected before animals can be moved across State or international borders. In Title 9 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), part 91, subsection 91.3 (d), it is stipulated that “the origin health certificate accompanying animals shall be accompanied by a statement from the issuing accredited veterinarian or inspector that the means of conveyance or container has been cleaned and disinfected since last used for animals with a disinfectant approved under subsection 71.10 of this chapter, prior to loading, or that the carrier or container has not previously been used in transporting animals.”

For more information on cleaning and disinfection, see NVAP Module 4: Preventing Disease Introduction and Spread at

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