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Use the Bleach and Those Who've Survived More Effectively

Bleach can be diluted and used to treat Ebola patients. Since bleach is already cheap and available, patients could be bathed in dilute bleach to lesson the virus burden. Also bleach can be relatively safely ingested in small amounts, which could treat the infection. Those who've survived the infection could be hired to care for (feed, bath and wash) those who are ill without compromising valuable healthcare workers. Also those who've survived may help healthcare workers bring a message of hope back to their villages.

Photo of Richard G. Lanzara
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Bleach can be diluted and used to treat Ebola patients. Since bleach is already cheap and available, patients could be bathed in dilute bleach to lesson the virus burden. Also bleach can be relatively safely ingested in small amounts, which could treat the infection.

Those who've survived the infection could be hired to care for (feed, bath and wash) those who are ill without compromising valuable healthcare workers. Also those who've survived may help healthcare workers bring a message of hope back to their villages.

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Photo of Edward (E. Barry) Skolnick, M.S.
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Richard, I agree that "bleach can be diluted" -- but not normal chlorine bleach (which is highly alkaline), but rather, "pH-adjusted" bleach!

Please see my OpenIDEO "Research" phase contribution at URL: "https://openideo.com/challenge/fighting-ebola/research/the-epa-has-adopted-a-better-bleach-innovation-of-acid-neutralized-ph-adjusted-bleach-replacing-the-usual-alkaline-water-dilutions-for-facility-surface-and-ppe-disinfections-during-anthrax-incidents-and-decon-exercises-why-not-then-for-ebola". An acid-neutralized ("amended" or "pH-adjusted" chlorine bleach) formulation would have much higher concentration of the germicidal hydrochlorous acid (HClO) molecule near neutral pH, than does the typically water-diluted and alkaline (pH>11) bleach, so would be predicted to deactivate Ebola virus much more rapidly (perhaps in seconds), e.g., during spray treatments of PPE before doffing it, than does the conventionally water-diluted alkaline bleach.

Also (notionally), because the "enveloped" Ebola filovirus is regarded as being highly susceptible to inactivation by disinfectants (i.e., very low on the "Spaulding hierarchy") substantially more-dilute bleach solutions could be used for reliable Ebola virocidal disinfection than may be needed with alkaline bleach (or "chlorine water"), thereby both improving Ebola disinfection cost-effectiveness, and reducing risks to healthcare workers from handling larger quantities of toxic chlorine in more concentrated alkaline bleach solutions.

Too good to be true? Maybe, because chlorine bleach solutions generate highly-toxic chlorine gas, more-so in more acidic solutions; so higher dilution in water -- if shown to be effective against Ebola virus -- would need to offset this risk of chlorine gas emission from pH-adjusted bleach disinfectant formulations. Also, unlike alkaline bleach, acidified bleach is chemically unstable, reportedly only effective for some hours after preparation; so a practical application against Ebola would have to provide for rapid consumption and/or frequent replacement of amended working disinfectant solutions, frequently prepared as-needed on-site from concentrated stocks.

The innovation of pH-adjusted bleach as an improved sporicidal disinfectant has long been adopted by US EPA (but without the higher dilution) for anthrax-spore bioterrorism response preparedness, but needs some R&D to adapt it optimally, safely, and effectively, to global public health virocidal needs, like for reliable Ebola disinfection. -- ebskolnick

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