5 Expert Tips to Protect Your Clients from Infectious Disease

Infectious diseases, like canine influenza and leptospirosis are on the rise, nationwide. These tips can help your clinic remain outbreak-free and reduce disease spread in the pet and human communities.

1. Be Aware: Have infectious disease on your diagnostic radar. An index of suspicion and diagnostic screening are keys to determining what disease(s) are at play for sick patients. Identifying the disease–causing pathogen will help you tailor treatment and prevention, reducing on-going transmission to animals (and people) in your clinic and the community. For example, knowing the upper respiratory signs of a canine patient is due to canine influenza allows you to ensure the dog is kept away from other dogs for at least three weeks (the infectious period); a canine patient with a sudden onset of kidney and/or liver disease should prompt checking for leptospirosis ASAP.

2. Wash your hands. Frequent and effective hand hygiene (using alcohol–based hand sanitizer or soap and water) can make a huge difference in disease prevention for your patients, staff and you.

3. Teamwork and Communication: Involve the whole hospital in risk reduction. Make sure everyone (i.e. front-end staff to DVMs) knows the clinic procedures to follow to stop the introduction and spread of disease in your hospital. For example, when scheduling an appointment for a patient with an acute onset of cough and concern of suspected infectious disease (such as canine influenza), have a staff member (wearing appropriate protective equipment) meet the client and patient outside of the clinic for evaluation. Allowing the patient to enter the hospital, contaminate the lobby and exam room, and interact with other dogs or people is a recipe for disaster.

4. Prevention: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Never rely on a single method for disease and outbreak prevention. Vaccinations are an important tool to prevent the spread of disease, but the rest of your ID prevention toolkit can be just as important. Ensure you (and your whole clinic staff) follow disinfection practices and establish and follow other infection control protocols to protect against all types of infectious diseases.

5. Plan for it: Develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Make a plan before there is an outbreak. Train your whole team on infectious disease prevention and management. Consider getting your facility certified in Infectious Disease Management, through the Heroes for Healthy Pets program. This free program can be assessed at Heroes4HealthyPets.com +