Citric Acid – so many uses, and now it can also help fight FMD and ASF if either occur in the U.S.

The language of the AVMA’s current policy on Citric Acid as a Disinfectant for FMDv was finalized by AVMA’s Animal Agriculture Liaison Committee (AALC) on October 17, 2012, and then was approved by the AVMA’s Executive Board on Nov. 16th.  It was exciting to learn that during this same time, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) a Section 18 Emergency Exemption Label (Rev. 11/20/12) under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) for the use of citric acid as a disinfectant against the viruses that cause Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and African Swine Fever (ASF) in the event that either virus is found in the U.S. and no suitable EPA-registered products are available for use against them.

There is a concern that if either FMD or ASF were introduced into the U.S., there might be an immediate shortage of approved disinfectants because of the sudden overwhelming demand for them.  The standard practices of broad inter- and intrastate movements of pigs, cattle, sheep, goats, and other susceptible species as well as milk and personnel who have direct access to the animals and their products increases the likelihood that multiple and potentially widely separated locations of infection could pop up at nearly the same time. Such would significantly increase the need for readily available supplies of approved disinfectant products.

Section 18 exemptions authorize the EPA to allow an unregistered use of a pesticide or disinfectant for a limited time if the agency determines that an emergency condition exists for which the product is needed and no suitable EPA-registered products are available.  Citric acid is not registered in the U.S. as a disinfectant against the FMDv nor the ASFv; however, it is in other countries, and its versatility and effectiveness make it a valuable tool in combating both diseases.  With a Section 18 exemption secured, the complex web of numerous stakeholders that might be impacted if either disease were to occur can now incorporate citric acid along with other authorized disinfectants into their response plans to further enhance disease response and containment efforts. This will increase the choices and availability of authorized disinfectants while decreasing the time lag associated with obtaining exemptions, establishing supply sources, and then addressing any logistical or field operations issues if they arise.

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