Prions (proteinaceous infectious particles) are proteins that occur in brain tissue and normally are not pathogenic. When they are folded abnormally a pathogenic form develops, which can elicit sponge-like brain diseases (TSE: transmissible spongiform encephalopathies), such as BSE and Creutzfeld-Jakob disease. Prions are highly resistant to conventional cleaning, sterilisation and disinfection procedures. Hence, when reprocessing contaminated medical devices, it is important to the World Health Organization (WHO).
It is assumed that prions are mainly transmitted through consumption of contaminated food as well as via blood and tissue.
WHO recommendations on inactivating prions