We typically hear about hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) - an infection acquired while in a hospital - in reference to humans.
But HAIs are also a problem for pets in veterinary hospitals as well. Its frequency is not well documented, but it is believed to be on the increase.
It appears pets contract these infections in many of the same ways humans do, such as:
• Overuse of antibiotics
• Contaminated medical instruments
• Poor hand hygiene by veterinary staff
• Ineffective cleaning procedures.
'Prevention is key to reducing the number of HAIs whether in a human or pet hospital,' says Matt Morrison, communications manager at Kaivac, developers of the No-Touch Cleaning® and OmniFlexTM Cleaning systems.
Some of the preventive measures Morrison suggests are the following:
Awareness. 'Even though the research is limited, veterinarians must be aware that [pet] HAIs are a growing problem.'
Prudent. Veterinarians should be careful with their use of antibiotics.
Handwashing. Veterinary staff must wash hands before and after treating each animal patient.
Hand Sanitizers. When hand washing is not possible, hand sanitizers can be used, 'but staff must rub their hands for 30 seconds to ensure the sanitizer is effective.'
Morrison adds that the clinic 'environment' is also a source of contamination. 'Many bacteria causing HAIs survive on floors and counters for prolonged periods of time. This is where effective cleaning can play a role in reducing these infections.'
He recommends the following:
• Develop a daily cleaning schedule with checks to ensure all areas are cleaned
• Institute a 'clean as you go' program, so some cleaning is performed throughout the day
• Clean and disinfect floors daily or after each use. 'Use disinfectants similar to those used in human hospitals and rotate them. This helps prevent bacterial resistance to a specific disinfectant.'
• Avoid using mops. Studies indicate floor mopping in human hospitals can increase hospital-acquired infections.
• Clean examination tables after each use. 'Instead of [using] cleaning cloths, surface cleaning systems can prove more effective.
Robert Kravitz is a former building service contractor, having owned, operated, and then sold three contract cleaning companies in Northern California.
He is the author of two books about the industry and continues to be a frequent writer for the industry.
Robert is now president of AlturaSolutions Communications, which provides communications and marketing services for organizations in the professional cleaning and building industries.