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Vet clinic infection control principles

Dog at vet clinic

With kennel cough and parvovirus quite virulent in many regions of the country at the moment, there’s never been a more important time to ensure the infection control processes in your vet clinic are failsafe.

In this blog, we run through the four key infection control principles for vet clinics and discuss practical measures for preventing cross-infection among your furred patients.

1. Hand hygiene

Hand hygiene is a very effective line of defence when it comes to effective infection control in a vet clinic setting. Killing the microorganisms responsible for illness and disease helps prevent their spread, as well as the transfer of these germs from hands to hard surfaces.

While hand washing is the holy grail when it comes to hand hygiene, it’s not always practical or convenient. That’s why having hand sanitiser conveniently located throughout your vet clinic or facility is essential.

Hand sanitiser is quick and easy to use, however, as anyone who uses it regularly knows, it can leave a real impact on your skin. Alcohol-free hand sanitisers – such as Safe4’s virucidal hand sanitiser – are becoming increasingly popular, using antiseptics and disinfectant to break down germs instead of alcohol.

While there is a common misconception that hand sanitisers need to include alcohol to be effective, a number of research studies have proven this to be completely false. Such research has even stated that alcohol-free hand sanitisers have an advantage over alcohol-based formulations due to it being gentler on the skin, which could lead to increased use of sanitiser.

2. Personal protective equipment

The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is another important element in preventing cross-infection amongst your patients by your veterinary staff.

The Australian Veterinary Association has produced a handy table to help with the selection of the most appropriate PPE for common veterinary tasks.

3. Environmental hygiene – Cleaning & disinfection

The key to optimal environment hygiene is a failsafe cleaning and disinfection protocol. This means clear and defined procedures that are easy to understand and execute and repeat day after day – regardless of which staff member is performing the task.

For the most effective infection control in your vet clinic, there are three key steps to follow when disinfecting and cleaning:

– Remove organic matter before disinfecting

While you don’t need to do a thorough clean of your hard surfaces before using a disinfectant, we do recommend that you use hot soapy water first to remove grease, food, or dirt. This will ensure that your disinfectant does the best job possible. When it comes to your flooring, a quick sweep with a broom before mopping with disinfectant will ensure any organic matter or dirt is removed.

– Use the right disinfectant

There are countless disinfection products available to purchase. While many of these “regular” or household products may be effective as a cleaner or disinfectant in some circumstances, some don’t kill tougher viruses such as Parvovirus or Coronavirus. Some are more effective against viruses but can actually be quite harmful to both your staff and animals.

That’s why the Safe4 veterinary disinfectant cleaner was developed as an alternative to these products. The founders of Safe4 worked for many years to formulate a cost-effective disinfectant cleaner that was completely safe for staff and the animals in their care, but still highly effective against harmful viruses and bacteria.

Safe4 is non-toxic, non-staining and a non-irritant, so you can use it with confidence on all hard surfaces throughout your clinic. Its effectiveness has also been thoroughly tested – and proven – against a range of viruses related to animals, bacteria, and fungi, including parvovirus, coronavirus, kennel cough, FIV, E-coli, and MRSA.

– Dilute your disinfectant correctly

Like any chemical, the dilution of any disinfectant cleaner is an exact science. Dilute it with too much water and you may minimise its effectiveness. Not enough dilution could result in a solution that is too concentrated and waste money down the drain.

When you purchase Safe4 veterinary disinfectant you are provided with a handy dilution guide that will ensure you achieve the perfect solution for every application in your veterinary clinic. This guide also includes the minimum contact time required after application for the disinfectant to become effective.

Here’s a condensed dilution guide below:

OrganismsSafe4 DilutionMinimum Contact Time
(e.g. FIV)
1:100 water5 minutes
(e.g. Candida albicans)
1:100 water15 minutes
(e.g. Kennel cough)
1:100 water30 minutes
Coronavirus1:50 water5 minutes
Parvovirus1:100 water15 minutes

4. Cleaning of equipment

As part of your disinfection regime, it’s important to have processes in place to disinfect your equipment, diagnostic machines and instruments.

While some pieces of equipment need daily cleaning, items used directly on animals need to be disinfected after each patient, such as stethoscopes, otoscope speculas and surgical instruments.

When it comes to cleaning surgical instruments and equipment, this can often be a long process due to the large number of items used during surgery and other procedures. Enzymatic instrument cleaning solution has fast become the product of choice for vet clinics, thanks to its high efficacy and speedy cleaning.

Instrument cleaners that contain enzymes – such as the Safe4 Triple Enzyme Instrument Cleaner – make the cleaning process so much faster, as the energy used to break down any residue takes place much more quickly than cleaners without enzymes.

Enzymatic cleaners have been shown to improve cleaning efficacy and can be used on a range of materials, including plastics, metals and glass. By opting for an enzymatic instrument cleaner, you are also extending the life of your instruments, as you reduce your need for caustic detergent chemicals and neutralisers.

We’re here to help

When it comes to preventing cross-contamination between animals, the Safe4 team are the experts. If you have any questions about infection control in your vet clinic, call 1300 661 821 or send us an email.