Hospital-associated infections in pets and animals are becoming all too common today. These animal infections are often difficult to treat due to their increased resistance to antibiotics or other types of treatment, and that means it’s imperative to prevent these infections from spreading throughout pet populations, where they can do the most damage. Here are some of the best guidelines right now concerning keeping hospital-associated animal infections under control at your animal care practice.
Infection Control Plan
First and foremost, your veterinary facility needs to have an infection control plan securely in place well before the possibility of a hospital-associated pet infection spreads through your veterinary patients. This plan needs to encompass a number of practices and protocols that cover employee education and management, patient surveillance and management, properly selecting effective veterinary disinfectant products, and prudent use of antimicrobials to prevent the emergence of resistant strains.
Hand Hygiene and Personal Protective Equipment
While many infections that affect pets cannot be passed to humans, veterinary workers can and often do pass infections from sick animals under their care to healthy ones. This makes it crucial to ensure any staff member that comes into contact with your animal patients practice high standards of hand hygiene. This goes beyond just sufficiently washing hands before and after coming into contact with pets but also using the right personal protective equipment, such as gloves and other clothing, to reduce or even eliminate dangers of cross-contamination. There also needs to be proper procedures set in place for the disposal of used PPE as well, again to avoid cross-contamination.
Cleaning and Disinfection
Cleaning and disinfecting are the last pieces of the puzzle when it comes to keeping pet infections to a minimum in your vet facility. While not every area of your vet offices will need to be cleaned and disinfected as regularly and as rigorously (reception and computer workstations, for example, will need less cleaning than exam rooms, kennels, and surgical suites), you’ll need to ensure the veterinary and kennel disinfectant you select is not just safe for animal use but also effective in eliminating the kinds of pathogens that are most likely to be present in these types of environments. Cleaning equipment such as brooms, dustpans, mops, buckets, disposable cleaning cloths, should only be used in one area, with each area having its own set of supplies to avoid cross-contamination.
The Final Word on Controlling and Eliminating Hospital-Associated Infections
While it may seem unrealistic to strive for completely eradicating the possibility of the spread of hospital-associated infections in your veterinary facility, the best way to keep your offices as safe as possible for your animal patients is to act as if this is an achievable goal. Holding staff to the highest standards of cleanliness and enacting rigorous practices and procedures designed to keep your facility clean as well as disinfected will go a long way in controlling the spread of these infections, making your facility safer for pets, their owners, and your staff.