The morphological damage induced in human rotavirus particles by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation at a wavelength of 254 nm increased progressively with length of treatment. Exposure of the virus in suspension to 9000 ergs/cm/s was sufficient to remove the smooth capsid layer from 50% of particles after 1 min and from all the virions within 10 min. By this time, the number of stain-penetrated or empty particles increased markedly, along with the appearance of virus-derived debris in the form of disrupted and isolated capsomeres. After treatment for 120 min no intact virus particles were observed. The action of wet (100°C) or dry (60°C) heat resulted in changes similar to those effected by UV radiation, with a rapid loss of viral outer capsid shell from the virions followed by stain penetration and disintegration of particles. Sodium hypochlorite, cetrimide and 70% ethanol induced a rapid loss of the outer capsid layer, but, compared with UV radiation or heat, a slower increase in the number of stain-penetrated particles was noted. This was particularly evident with cetrimide. Chlorhexidine and phenol had effects on virus structure only after extended periods of exposure, whilst glutaraldehyde treatment had little influence on virus morphology. Glutaraldehyde 2% v/v would appear to be most suitable for the disinfection of rotavirus-containing electronmicroscope grids before their examination.


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