Scott Weese, DVM, DVSc, Diplomate ACVIM

Wednesday, January 21 • 1:45-2:35, Marriott

All small animal practices should maintain standard infection control protocols. Increased awareness of infectious, nosocomial, and zoonotic diseases in the public realm and the emergence of antibiotic-resistant organisms demand effective infection control. Guiding principles in infection control include decreasing exposure to infections, decreasing individual susceptibility, and increasing resistance to pathogens. Decreasing exposure involves both passive and active infectious disease surveillance. Active surveillance is highly accurate but requires ongoing data collection and monitoring, while passive surveillance is simpler but not as rewarding in terms of accurate data. Syndromic surveillance involves specific evaluation of syndromes, such as diarrhea or respiratory signs. Appropriate isolation areas should be available to quarantine highly infectious patients. Other precautions include barrier precautions (gloves, boot covers, masks), appropriate handling of blood and blood products, safe handling of sharps, appropriate isolation of sick animals, appropriate cleaning and disinfecting, and human hygiene. Decreasing susceptibility to infection in vulnerable individuals is another cornerstone of effective programs. Increasing resistance to infection in our veterinary patients must include complete vaccination protocols for animals and for humans at risk for preventable zoonotic diseases, such as rabies.

COMMENTARY: This presentation lays out some practical guidelines that can be followed in any hospital. Since disease-causing pathogens can and do get transmitted by other than direct animal-to-animal contact, this article takes the principles of segregation several steps further to expand the benefits of isolation beyond simple species segregation. In the past, we congratulated ourselves for separating "infectious" patients by species and thought we were doing a good job. That approach worked for many years, but it's becoming obvious that it won't continue to solve our problem. Hospital-acquired, also known as nosocomial, infections and diseases are becoming a greater concern for the profession and for society at large. Nosocomial infections are often fairly easy to prevent but are sometimes difficult to cure. Hence the need for every hospital to have a practical infection control program. This presentation provides information on understanding the risk as well as implementing the day-to-day procedures for staff.