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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



methods and means of destroying pathogenic microorganisms at points of transmission from sources of infection to healthy organisms. The basic goal in disinfection is interruption of the infection transmission mechanism by disinfecting various objects (water, food products, objects of everyday use, and the like).

Biological, physical, and chemical means are used to effect disinfection. The biological method is used to disinfect sewage in purification plants and in biological oxidation ponds. The physical means most used are high temperature (dry and moist hot air), steam under normal and increased pressure, boiling water, and fire. Electricity (to ionize the air) and ultraviolet light are sometimes used. Mechanical cleansing of infected objects is also used, for instance, cleaning clothes, brushing carpets, vacuum cleaning furniture and rooms, airing and wet-cleaning rooms, washing, and laundering. Mechanical means do not destroy the infectious source but only remove it, thus reducing the possibility of infecting people. Chemical preparations (disinfectants) are mainly employed when it is difficult to use the other methods.

A distinction is made between preventive, current, and final disinfection. Preventive disinfection is carried out irrespective of the presence of infectious sick persons to prevent diseases or their spread within groups. Drinking water, sewage, dishes of public eating establishments, rubbish, and the premises of shops, railway stations, baths, and other public places are disinfected. Preventive disinfection is expedient only if it is constantly and continuously carried out (for example, water chlorination, milk pasteurization, systematic wet cleaning of rooms, and washing of hands). Preventive disinfection is carried out by maintenance units or divisions of public health and epidemiologic stations. Current disinfection is performed in medical establishments and apartments to prevent spread of pathogens from sick persons to those who come in contact with them, as well as to everyday objects and objects at plants or factories. Current disinfection should be carried out as close as possible to the time when the causative agent leaves the sick person’s body; in the case of intestinal infections, it should be done close to the act of defecation and urination (for example, chlorination of toilets) and in the case of fungous ailments, to changing bandages, underwear, socks or stockings, and the like. Current disinfection at home is organized by the medical workers of poly-clinics and public health and epidemiologic stations, as well as by the sick persons themselves and people around them. Final disinfection is done by the workers of disinfection services at centers of infection after the sick persons have been hospitalized or have died. In carrying out final disinfection, extensive use is made of chamber disinfection (for street clothing, carpets, bedding), boiling (for linen, dishes, toys, and the like), and wiping furniture and objects with a cloth soaked in the solution of a chemical preparation.


Vashkov, V. I. Dezinfektsiia, dezinsektsiia i deratizatsiia. Moscow, 1956.


Disinfection in veterinary practice. In veterinary practice objects that are disinfected include buildings used in livestock breeding (stables, cow sheds, pigsties, and so on), harnesses and articles used for maintenance of animals, means of transport intended for transporting animals and products of animal origin, places where animals are slaughtered and products of animal origin are processed and stored (meat-packing plants, refrigerators, raw materials storehouses, dairy-plant equipment, and milk containers), fish-rearing ponds, and dung. Depending on the purpose, there are three kinds of disinfection: prophylactic (preventive), which is carried out before the discovery of an infectious disease; current (necessitated), which is done because of sick animals; and final, which is done for the purpose of completely freeing the center of infection from the causative agents.

Disinfection is mostly carried out by physical or chemical means and usually after preliminary mechanical cleaning. Of the physical methods, ultraviolet light is widely used (some livestock breeding premises, premises for storing processed products). Chemical methods are the most radical; they consist in applying various chemical substances (preferably in aerosol form) to the objects. The choice of chemical, its concentration, and the disinfection frequency are determined in each individual case depending on the kind of object to be disinfected and the nature of the causative agent of the disease. In carrying out disinfection, technical safety rules are observed.


Poliakov, A. A. Veterinarnaia dezinfektsiia, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1964.
larnykh, V. S. Primenenie aerozolei v veterinarii. Moscow, 1962.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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