HPV Virus Not Killed by Common Sanitizers

Craig Meyers, Ph.D. Distinguished Professor Department of Microbiology and Immunology H107 The Penn State College of Medicine Hershey, PA 17033MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Craig Meyers, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor
Department of Microbiology and Immunology H107
The Penn State College of Medicine
Hershey, PA 17033

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Meyers: The human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16) is the most common HPV type associated with human cancer. It has always been assumed that HPV16 was susceptible to commonly used disinfectants. However, this has never been tested. We developed the only reproducible method to grow authentic HPV in the laboratory. Our studies show that highly resistant virus; more so than other non-enveloped viruses previously tested. Simply stated that any materials in a healthcare facility that rely on disinfectants (those presently used by healthcare facilities) do absolutely nothing to HPV. This suggests the possibility of risk of infection from inanimate objects, particularly those use in healthcare and dental clinics that depend on disinfectant treatment. Additionally it has been reported that at any one time 20% of individuals with anogenital HPV infections have the virus on their fingertips and the common hand sanitizers do nothing to inactivate the virus.

MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Meyers: We were actually surprised at how highly resistant HPV was against the spectrum of disinfectants we tested. Glutaraldehydes (GTA) and ortho-pthalaldehyde (OPA) are commonly used to sterilize OB/GYN equipment and some dental equipment. The common recommendation is to soak the equipment for ≈40 minutes, we exposed the virus to GTA and OPA for up 48 hours and saw no decrease in infectivity.

Healthcare facilities often base their use of GTA and OPA to inactivate HPV on published articles. However, if you read these these articles they state that they do not know what will kill HPV but suggest certain disinfectants based on their ability to kill other viruses. What is surprising that people who are in decision making positions often do not know what these references actually say.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Meyers: Equipment that cannot be sterilized by autoclaving is not necessarily sterile. There is a potential for nonsexual transmission of HPV infections.

MedicalResearch.com:What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Meyers: Policy changes are needed. We can no longer think that just because a disinfectant works on another virus that it will have similar efficacy on HPV. The test is fairly simple and disinfectants can now be tested.


Susceptibility of high-risk human papillomavirus type 16 to clinical disinfectants
J. Antimicrob. Chemother. first published online February 4, 2014 doi:10.1093/jac/dku006
Jordan Meyers, Eric Ryndock, Michael J. Conway, Craig Meyers, and Richard Robison


Last Updated on February 13, 2014 by Marie Benz MD FAAD