Winter 2012 Banfield Journal: Preventing Infectious Disease

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It’s a concern to think that infectious diseases are so prevalent in our pets and that they can be spread easily when the proper precautions aren’t taken. Not only are we at risk in our hospitals, but also in our homes and in the environment. Most pet owners are probably unaware of the diseases their pets can spread to both humans and other pets. It’s up to the veterinary team to raise awareness of the potential risks of infectious diseases and how to prevent them from spreading. 

In the winter issue of the Banfield Journal, authors Ashley Westin Mickelson, CVT, and Amanda Denninger, CVT, discuss prevention of infection in the hospital starting in the waiting room. The authors point out that since a pet will have potential contact with every other patient that is in the lobby at the time of check-in and check-out, it’s vital to get a thorough history of each patient, including day-to-day lifestyle, travel history and exposure, to determine if something infectious could be ruled out.

Once in the treatment area, again there is the potential of close contact with other pets through the use of shared surfaces. Guidelines for sanitation are included for quarantined spaces, medical instruments, thermometers, scrub tops, towels and garments. Footbaths for hospital associates are recommended, as studies have shown that they reduce bacterial concentration by 67-78 percent when proper antiseptics are used. They may also reduce the risk of a hospital-acquired infection.

In their article, the authors also stress that standard precautions and safety practices such as frequent hand washing should be employed even if there is no threat of disease transmission on a particular day. Patients with chronic infections that are hospitalized, for example, do not always display signs. It is also equally important to minimize the number of people who come into contact with infected pets and maximize communication between hospital associates so that all can be done to ensure that the entire hospital team is aware of the presence of an infected patient, the disease it is carrying and the potential risks involved.

Finally, when a pet is released from the hospital, it still has the potential to transmit disease to other household pets, family members or even unknown persons or pets in the community. We provide a handy checklist for proper home sanitation that can be shared with clients/pet owners as well as advice on what can be done in the home to decrease the risk of transmission. Zoonotic diseases are discussed too, as they are a rapidly growing concern for both veterinary teams and the general public.

Finally,  our evidence-based medicine feature in this issue is a Critically Appraised Topic (CAT) asking the question: What factors put hospital teams and patients at greatest risk for infection with methicillin-resistant staphylococci (MRSA and MRSP)?

To read the Journal, visit Banfield’s website.

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