Infectious disease control in the shelter environment (Proceedings)


Infectious disease control in the shelter environment (Proceedings)

Aug 01, 2011

Between 6 and 8 million dogs and cats are admitted to animal shelters each year in the United States. Often the animals admitted are unvaccinated, undernourished, stressed, and carrying one or more diseases. Infection disease control should be an essential component of the care of any animal admitted to a shelter. Every shelter should have an infection control plan consisting of: appropriate vaccination practices, effective cleaning and disinfection protocols, and functional shelter policies and procedures related to animal movement, staff movement and animal isolation. Each of these will be addressed in this paper.

Risk factors for infectious disease in animal shelters

There are many potential factors that put animals in shelters at risk for infectious disease. These include overcrowding, stress, lack of vaccinations, poor nutritional status, poor sanitation, and introduction of diseased animals. Disease control programs must be designed to address each of these factors.

Principles of infection control

Infection control plans should include the hygienic practices of shelter staff, cleaning and disinfection protocols, handling of infectious waste, basic animal examination and screening, vaccination practices, parasite control, routine testing for disease and isolation. Additional features of a plan should deal with facility design especially related to isolation, quarantine, temperature control and ventilation.

Hygienic practices of shelter staff

Hand washing and use of hand sanitizers are a vital component to any disease control plan. Hands often serve as fomites and handling multiple animals without washing or sanitizing hands can rapidly spread disease through a shelter. All staff that handle animals should wash or sanitize hands after handling each animal. They should never go from one animal to the next without washing or sanitizing their hands.