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The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) appreciates the opportunity to provide comments on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Draft Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities, 2003, which was published in the Federal Register on April 30, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 83). The ASM is the largest educational, professional, and scientific society dedicated to the advancement of the microbiological sciences and their application for the common good. The Society represents more than 42,000 microbiologists, including scientists and science administrators in academic, industry and government institutions working in a variety of areas, including biomedical, environmental, and clinical microbiology.

The ASM commends the CDC for its extremely important and exhaustive review of the existing literature written to guide infection control practice. The technical information has been presented in a clear and understandable manner. Important controversies and gaps in the scientific literature have been acknowledged, yet clear parameters for the minimum infection control practices that are acceptable are clearly outlined. In particular, CDC's comprehensive outline of recommendations which are ranked categorically, should be enormously helpful to infection control practitioners for their review of existing infection control policies. Finally, ASM applauds the CDC for distinguishing the meaning of sterilization as "absolute" and not relative. ASM agrees with the CDC that the term "partially sterile" should not appear in technical and commercial literature. The Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities will be a major contribution to the standardization of infection control practice. It is ASM's hope that this single, comprehensive resource will eliminate any non-compliance caused by incomplete or outdated information.

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