WASHINGTON (CN) – The Environmental Protection Agency proposes to recognize proteinaceous infectious particles, or prions, as “pests” under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.
As a result, any product designed to kill or reduce the efficacy of a prion on an inanimate surface would be a pesticide under the act and must be regulated by the agency as such.
Prions are infectious agents composed primarily of protein and are believed to be the cause of several diseases including bovine spongiform encephalopathy, so called “mad cow disease”, in cattle and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. These diseases attack the brain and the nervous system and are fatal.
Killing or reducing the efficacy of prions is quite difficult because it is the prion itself which interacts with cells and changes the structure of the proteins within the cell. Most viruses and bacteria can be killed or their efficacy reduced by destroying their nucleic acid, which is essential to their reproduction.
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