family, an enveloped RNA virus family, and, more particularly, human coronaviruses (HCoV), were historically known to be responsible for a large portion of common colds and other upper respiratory tract infections. HCoV are now known to be involved in more serious respiratory diseases, i.e. bronchitis, bronchiolitis or pneumonia, especially in young children and neonates, elderly people and immunosuppressed patients. They have also been involved in nosocomial viral infections. In 2002–2003, the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), due to a newly discovered coronavirus, the SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV); led to a new awareness of the medical importance of the Coronaviridae
family. This pathogen, responsible for an emerging disease in humans, with high risk of fatal outcome; underline the pressing need for new approaches to the management of the infection, and primarily to its prevention. Another interesting feature of coronaviruses is their potential environmental resistance, despite the accepted fragility of enveloped viruses. Indeed, several studies have described the ability of HCoVs (i.e. HCoV 229E, HCoV OC43 (also known as betacoronavirus 1), NL63, HKU1 or SARS-CoV) to survive in different environmental conditions (e.g. temperature and humidity), on different supports found in hospital settings such as aluminum, sterile sponges or latex surgical gloves or in biological fluids. Finally, taking into account the persisting lack of specific antiviral treatments (there is, in fact, no specific treatment available to fight coronaviruses infections), the Coronaviridae
specificities (i.e. pathogenicity, potential environmental resistance) make them a challenging model for the development of efficient means of prevention, as an adapted antisepsis-disinfection, to prevent the environmental spread of such infective agents. This review will summarize current knowledge on the capacity of human coronaviruses to survive in the environment and the efficacy of well-known antiseptic-disinfectants against them, with particular focus on the development of new methodologies to evaluate the activity of new antiseptic-disinfectants on viruses.