Inadequate infection control by vets widespread

May 13, 2013
Inadequate infection control by vets widespread
Almost half of veterinarians contract an infection from animals during their career.

The infection control practices of veterinarians are inadequate with almost 50 percent of vets contracting infections from animals during their career, research led by the University of Sydney has found.

"There is an urgent need for our profession to better educate vets about protecting themselves, and by extension the general public, against contracting infection from animals," said Dr Navneet Dhand, from the University's Faculty of .

"Not using appropriate protection when necessary is just like having unprotected sex with a stranger and thinking that it will be alright," Dr Dhand said.

Dr Dhand is Principal Investigator of the research published in Preventive Veterinary Medicine today.

The survey found that 44.9 percent of vets have contracted infections from animals during their professional lives.

The study was conducted to determine vets' perception of risk of contracting a disease from the animals they treat, the measures they use to protect themselves and the factors that influence their adoption of those measures.

The survey was completed by 344 veterinarians attending an Australian Veterinary Association Conference and conducted by Karen Dowd, a master's student in the Veterinary Public Health Management course at the University.

It also found that:

  • about 60 percent of workplaces do not make adequate use of national industry standard kits designed to protect staff against infection
  • 34.8 percent did not have isolation units for animals with contagious or known
  • 21.1 percent did not have staff eating areas separate from the animals.

Although more than 75 percent of vets used adequate protection (eg masks, gowns, gloves) to prevent infection while performing post-mortems, dental procedures and surgery, 60 to 70 percent did not use adequate protection when treating animals with signs of respiratory and neurological disease and 40 to 50 percent did not use adequate protection when treating animals with signs of gastrointestinal and dermatological disease.

"The results of the study are concerning. Our profession appears to have a complacent attitude towards the use of personal protection," Dr Dhand said.

"It is worth remembering that zoonotic (contracted from animals) diseases, such as equine Hendra virus and avian influenza represent 75 percent of all emerging infectious diseases for humans."

"Given they spend much of their professional lives working with sick animals, vets are likely to be among the first people to encounter infected with zoonotic pathogens. In that sense their vigilance has implications not only for their own health but also the health and safety of their employees and clients and for that of the wider community."

The study found that veterinarians' perceptions and workplace policies and culture substantially influence their use of personal protective equipment, with uptake often well below the minimal levels recommended by the national industry.

Some of the factors that made vets more likely to use preventive measures included working in non-private practice, an awareness of biosecurity guidelines and belief that their use would decrease their liability in the case of legal action.

"Given an estimated 80 percent of surveyed vets worked in private practice their lack of awareness underlines the need to improve the quality of decision making by veterinarians regarding the use of preventive measures," Dr Dhand said.

Explore further: Telling the time of day by color

More information: www.journals.elsevier.com/preventive-veterinary-medicine/

Related Stories

UN urges strict hygiene to avoid spread of H7N9 virus

Apr 05, 2013

The United Nations on Friday presented a list of recommendations, including a strict hygiene culture and keeping different breeds of animals apart, to try to curb the spreading of the H7N9 flu virus which has killed six people ...

Transforming the diagnosis of equine colic

Dec 12, 2012

Colic is the number one killer of horses. But one of the difficulties faced by vets is differentiating between a mild case and a potentially life threatening case that is in its early stages.

Recommended for you

Telling the time of day by color

13 hours ago

Research by scientists at The University of Manchester has revealed that the colour of light has a major impact on how the brain clock measures time of day and on how the animals' physiology and behavior adjust accordingly. ...

Aphrodisiac for fish and frogs discovered

19 hours ago

A supplement simply added to water has been shown to boost reproduction in nematodes (roundworms), molluscs, fish and frogs – and researchers believe it could work for humans too.

Evolution puts checks on virgin births

19 hours ago

It seems unnatural that a species could survive without having sex. Yet over the ages, evolution has endowed females of certain species of amphibians, reptiles and fish with the ability to clone themselves, ...

Humans can't resist those puppy-dog eyes

Apr 16, 2015

When humans and their four-legged, furry best friends look into one another's eyes, there is biological evidence that their bond strengthens, researchers report.

Roundworm parasite targets canine eyes

Apr 16, 2015

(HealthDay)—A small number of dogs and cats across the United States have been infected by a roundworm parasite that targets the eye, according to a new report.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.