Virulent spores of Bacillus anthracis and other Bacillus species deposited on solid surfaces have similar sensitivity to chemical decontaminants


Jose-Luis Sagripanti, US Army RDECOM Attn: AMSRD-ECB-RT Bldg. 3150 Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD 21010-5424. E-mail:


Aims:  To compare the relative sensitivity of Bacillus anthracis and spores of other Bacillus spp. deposited on different solid surfaces to inactivation by liquid chemical disinfecting agents.

Methods and Results:  We prepared under similar conditions spores from five different virulent and three attenuated strains of B. anthracis, as well as spores of Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus atrophaeus (previously known as Bacillus globigii), Bacillus cereus, Bacillus thuringiensis and Bacillus megaterium. As spore-surface interactions may bias inactivation experiments, we evaluated the relative binding of different spores to carrier materials. The survival of spores deposited on glass, metallic or polymeric surfaces were quantitatively measured by ASTM standard method E-2414-05 which recovers spores from surfaces by increasing stringency. The number of spores inactivated by each decontaminant was similar and generally within 1 log among the 12 different Bacillus strains tested. This similarity among Bacillus strains and species was observed through a range of sporicidal efficacy on spores deposited on painted metal, polymeric rubber or glass.

Conclusions:  The data obtained indicate that the sensitivity of common simulants (B. atrophaeus and B. subtilis), as well as spores of B. cereus, B. thuringiensis, and B. megaterium, to inactivation by products that contain either: peroxide, chlorine or oxidants is similar to that shown by spores from all eight B. anthracis strains studied.

Significance and Impact of the Study:  The comparative results of the present study suggest that decontamination and sterilization data obtained with simulants can be safely extrapolated to virulent spores of B. anthracis. Thus, valid conclusions on sporicidal efficacy could be drawn from safer and less costly experiments employing non-pathogenic spore simulants.