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Survival and disinfection of Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit virus

Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV) is a challenging virus that poses a risk for UK tomato and pepper production. This page summarises the latest findings in our research to understand how long the virus can survive and which disinfection techniques are most likely to reduce the risk of infection and control the spread of the virus.

Overview

Tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) is a virus that can cause infected tomato and pepper fruit to become discoloured and misshapen and can easily spread to all plants in a crop via mechanical transmission.

It was discovered for the first time in the UK in early 2019, but it is believed to have been fully eradicated and no further outbreaks have since been reported.

The virus can survive for long periods on a range of surfaces and is difficult to eradicate using existing disinfection techniques. 

How long can ToBRFV survive?

Skin and gloves

  • The virus can last for at least two hours on skin and gloves and still cause infection

Glasshouse surfaces

  • The virus can last for at least three months on hard plastic and polythene
  • ToBRFV survives for at least one month on glass, aluminium and stainless steel
  • It can survive on concrete up to 3 months, however, this looks variable as in some cases the virus did not survive 2 weeks.

Will washing my hands reduce the risk of ToBRFV contamination?

Initial trials show that washing hands for 30 seconds with water, water + soap, + medicated hand wash, or + medicated hand wash and gel, does not prevent the virus spreading.

In general handwashing is not very effective at removing ToBRFV with, in most instances, at least a 1 minute wash required to remove the virus. For example, a 1 minute wash with Nzym Rugo was effective. However, this is not very practical and so we recommend washing hands regularly, but more importantly changing gloves on a regular basis.

Which disinfectants can remove ToBRFV?

The virus survived after one minute of treatment with a range of disinfectants, all applied at recommended rates, on different glasshouse surfaces.

Initial results from testing the efficacy of disinfectants at longer contact times suggest:

  • Virkon S is effective against ToBRFV at 1 hour contact time on all surfaces except concrete
  • Huwa San (1 rep only) is effective against ToBRFV at 1 hour contact time on all surfaces except concrete
  • Sodium hypochlorite (1 rep only) is partially effective against ToBRFV on polythene and glass and is effective on other surfaces
  • Jet 5 (1 rep only) does not look effective on most surfaces.

Can ToBRFV be removed from plastic trays?

  • Soaking trays in hot water for five minutes at 90oC can eliminate the virus
  • Soaking trays in hot water for 5 minutes at 70oC was insufficient to kill the virus. However, a 5 min soak at 70oC followed by spraying with Virkon, was effective

 

This information is based on our research project on the survival and disinfection of the virus, which is being run by Adrian Fox at Fera Science Ltd. Full summary of the trials can be found below. We’ll continue to update the industry with further information when available.

Survival and disinfection of ToBRFV - latest report