Evaluating environmental persistence and disinfection of the Ebola virus Makona variant

Viruses. 2015 Apr 14;7(4):1975-86. doi: 10.3390/v7041975.


Background: The current disease outbreak caused by the Ebola virus Makona variant (EBOV/Mak) has led to unprecedented morbidity and lethality given its geographic reach and sustained transmission. Sodium hypochlorite and ethanol are well-accepted decontamination agents, however little published evidence supports the selection of appropriate concentrations and contact times. The present study addresses the environmental robustness of EBOV/Mak and evaluates the effectiveness of sodium hypochlorite and ethanol as disinfectants.

Methods: EBOV/Mak was suspended in a simulated organic soil load and dried onto surfaces. Viability was measured at 1 hour, 24 hours, 72 hours, and 192 hours. For the evaluation of disinfectants, EBOV/Mak in a simulated organic soil was dried onto stainless steel carriers and disinfected with 0.01% (v/v), 0.1% (v/v), 0.5% (v/v) and 1% (v/v) sodium hypochlorite solutions or 67% (v/v) ethanol at contact times of 1, 5 or 10 minutes.

Results: EBOV/Mak persisted longer on steel and plastic surfaces (192 hours) than cotton (<24 hours). Dilute sodium hypochlorite (0.01% and 0.1%) showed little antiviral action, whereas 0.5% and 1% sodium hypochlorite solutions demonstrated recoverable virus at one minute but sterilized surfaces in five minutes. Disinfection with 67% ethanol did not fully clear infectious virions from 3/9 carriers at 1 minute but sterilized all carriers at 5 and 10 minutes.

Conclusions: Sodium hypochlorite and ethanol effectively decontaminate EBOV/Mak suspended in a simulated organic load; however, selection of concentration and contact time proves critical.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Disinfectants / pharmacology*
  • Disinfection / methods*
  • Ebolavirus / drug effects*
  • Ebolavirus / isolation & purification*
  • Ebolavirus / physiology
  • Environmental Microbiology*
  • Ethanol / pharmacology
  • Microbial Viability
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sodium Hypochlorite / pharmacology
  • Time Factors


  • Disinfectants
  • Ethanol
  • Sodium Hypochlorite

Associated data

  • GENBANK/KJ660348