Dispelling the disinformation about popular disinfectant

Some people have wondered why Lysol disinfectant spray bottles had a label claiming to be able to kill human coronavirus on “hard, non-porous surfaces” long before the disease became a widespread and much discussed health concern, and doctors say there’s a very good reason for that.

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – “You see,” a faceless man said in the Facebook video, with a chuckle. “This is why I don’t trust certain things at all.”

The focus of the video is a can of Lysol disinfectant spray.

“How can they put the name on the can long before it even existed?” the man asked.

The man is referring to a claim on the label of the can: “Kills Infuenza A Virus (H1N1) and Human Coronavirus on hard, non-porous surfaces in 2 minutes.

The Leave to Layron team found the same claim on the Lysol’s label for its disinfecting wipes.

“They should be giving these away all over the world," said Mike Marshall, a South Florida resident.

He was surprised to see the claim on the label.

“The virus has only been around -- discovered -- for a couple of months, at most,” said Robert Wiseman, another South Florida resident.

“This has obviously been in production for a while,” he said, referring to the container of Lysol wipes we showed him. “I really have no idea how they can possibly know that.”

We showed the video and the label to Dr. Claudio Tuda, an infectious disease specialist with Mount Sinai Medical Center.

"Coronavirus has been around for centuries, for years," Tuda said.

But Tuda said the 2019 Novel Coronavirus -- or, Covid-19 -- is a new strain.

Tuda said to think of it like the flu virus. Every year, there is a new flu vaccine, “Because the strain mutates every year, and every year it’s different."

Tuda said just like there are multiple strains of influenza virus, there are different kinds of coronavirus.

Some manifest themselves in the form of a common cold.

Others are more serious and more deadly.

SARS, Tuda said, was a coronavirus that killed more than 700 people in the early 2000s before it was contained.

As of today, the 2019 Novel Coronavirus has killed more than 1,800 people and sickened more than 73,000 people across the world, mostly in China.

"It's scary,” said Dwight Stirrup, a South Florida resident.

"Obviously, [coronavirus] has been out there for a long time,” said Marshall. “We just have a different version of it that's obviously a bit stronger than what has traditionally been around."

Lysol now has an entire section of its website dedicated to coronavirus.

A statement on the site reads: “Specific Lysol products have demonstrated effectiveness against viruses similar to 2019 Novel Coronavirus (SARS-cov-2) on hard, non-porous surfaces.”

“Similar to,” repeated Tuda when we showed him the website. “That’s exactly what I’m saying. They tested it against the coronavirus, as a family. That’s what it means."

“Definitive scientific confirmation of this, as with all other commercially available virucides, can only be provided once testing against SARS-CoV-2 has been conducted, following release of the strain by relevant health authorities,” a spokesperson with Lysol said.

Tuda said perspective is key. He said thousands of people die from the flu each year in the Unites States.

So far, there are 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States. There are currently no cases in Florida, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The results in 60 cases are still pending.

About the Author:

Layron Livingston made the move from Ohio's Miami Valley to Miami, Florida, to join the Local 10 News team.