Is Kennel Kare SC the miracle parvocidal disinfectant that we seek?

Question: 

I'm responsible for generating all of my shelter cleaning and disinfecting protocols. I've been using Trifectant and 1:10 bleach, when necessary, for years and have no problems. I'm preparing to give an information session to a shelter with limited financial resources and in the process of doing research was informed that Kennel Kare SC was effective against panleukopenia, calicivirus,parvovirus, ringworm, giardia,and COCCIDIA! Sounds like a miracle disinfectant! I find most of this highly questionable but would like to know if any of it is true.

Answer Date: 
September 9, 2011
Answer: 

I’m glad your organization has you responsible for generating its cleaning protocols because you ask the right questions! There is a FAQ (www.sheltermedicine.com, Shelter Health portal, FAQ #239) on our website that essentially answers your concerns about Kennel Kare.

To summarize: Kennel Kare is a quaternary ammonium disinfectant or “quat”. Contrary to many manufacturers’ claims “quats” are not reliable disinfectants against unenveloped viruses such as parvo/panleukopenia, calicivirus and fungi such as ringworm. This has been repeatedly shown in independent studies. I looked at the company’s website; it claims that its product can kill parvovirus but must be used at a much higher concentration. It does not mention giardia or coccidia anywhere. Although some quat manufacturers now claim that their reformulated products (they did this after the aforementioned studies) can kill parvo this has neither been independently verified nor is it likely.

Also, please note: Using a higher concentration of quats raises toxicity issues in animals. Like many active chemicals, disinfectants are not without the potential for harm. At minimum, use of disinfectants at excessively high concentrations can create respiratory irritation for animals and staff, and some chemicals (such as quaternary ammonium (Grier 1967; Trapani, Brooks et al. 1982) and phenol disinfectants (Rousseaux, Smith et al. 1986), e.g. Pine-sol®) can actually be fatal when applied incorrectly. We have investigated several “outbreaks” of severe oral ulceration, fever and malaise in cats that turned out not to be due to a virus but to exposure to incorrectly diluted quaternary ammonium disinfectants.

That being said quats are perfectly good cleaners and can be used in kennels that do not have parvo/panleukopenia/calicivirus problems. Financially strapped shelters can always “bring on the bleach” as a disinfectant to use after cleaning if these viruses appear. There is a relatively new product on the market “Bru-clean” which is a bleach-based cleaner/disinfectant. Although it has not been verified by independent studies it appears to effectively kill parvo as reported by shelters that are using it (so far). I don’t know how the cost compares to Trifectant but it is another disinfection product to consider.

One last point, bleach need only be a 1:32 (1/2 cup/gallon) concentration to be effectively parvocidal as long as there is no organic matter and surface contact time is 10 minutes. Bleach at a 1:10 dilution is used only for ringworm control.