Equine Hospital – Infection Control
Animals seeking medical attention at a veterinary hospital can sometimes have infectious diseases that may be transmissible from animal to animal and/or from animals to humans. The faculty and staff at Cornell University are dedicated to providing a safe environment to prevent any unnecessary illnesses in our patients. Below we will highlight some of the many precautions and procedures that we do in order to protect your animal.
Active Infection Control Committee
Providing a safe hospital starts with an active Infection Control Committee which is led by Dr. Gillian Perkins. The committee consists of all members of the hospital team including the barn manager, technicians, faculty and invited experts in the field of biosecurity and infectious diseases. The committee meets every two weeks and discusses day-to-day activities, policies and new ways to improve safety for our patients and their owners.
Excellent barn crew and cleaning protocols
Our staff is dedicated to maintaining a clean and germ-free environment. When a patient is discharged, the stall is completely emptied (shavings, fecal matter, buckets, etc) and then the walls and floor scrubbed using a disinfectant with a foamer and brush. The disinfectant sits for 10 minutes and then is rinsed off with a hose and allowed to dry before a new patient enters the stall. All buckets, brushes, utensils, etc are disinfected between patients. In addition, the hallways and treatment rooms are all cleaned and disinfected each day including, but not limited to, floors, computer keyboards, phones, and counter space.
We have an isolation facility that is physically separated from the rest of the hospital. It has 5-stalls with ante-rooms and a hallway. While working in the isolation stalls, personal protective equipment (PPE) such as full-body suits, plastic boots, and gloves are worn by all personnel handling the infectious patients. This facility is well equipped and can provide 24-h intensive care to the sickest of animals including intravenous fluids, oxygen therapy, antibiotics, plasma, hoisting of down animals, and more.
Rapid Diagnostic Testing
With the Cornell University- Animal Health Diagnostic Center on site, diagnostic samples can be expedited and the results obtained quickly. With the ability to obtain results rapidly, we can institute protective measures and inform clients of possible risks before larger problems arise.
Assessing Risk prior to admitting a patient
Here is where you can help --- when you call to make an appointment we may need to ask many questions to learn about the overall condition of your animal and to assess the risk of an infectious disease. Some important questions are (1) does your animal have a fever (2) have there been any new arrivals to the farm, or has your animal travelled recently (3) are there any other animals on the farm that are sick and (4) have there been any respiratory disease, abortions, neurologic disease or diarrhea. These will help us decide what stall your animal will be placed in and also assist with the preparation and set up of the medical equipment prior to your arrival.
Active Monitoring and Surveillance for Salmonella
Salmonella is a Gram negative bacteria that can cause fever, anorexia, diarrhea and sometimes colic in animals of any age. However, healthy animals can also carry and/or shed Salmonella in their feces and not have any outward clinical signs. In order to check to see if an animal is shedding Salmonella on arrival to our hospital we perform a fecal Salmonella culture. Also, in-house patients are sampled once per week. Every month environmental samples from various random sites in the hospital are cultured. As soon as a patient’s fecal sample or other environmental sample is suspicious for Salmonella in the bacteriology lab, an e-mail alert goes out to the entire faculty and staff of the hospital and immediate precautions are taken to prevent spread of the organism in the environment and to other patients. Any contaminated areas would be closed and cleaned vigorously, cultured and not made available to new patients until confirmed negative by culture.
Our philosophy at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals regarding infection control is to err on the side of caution. If we suspect an infectious disease, we will take necessary precautions to prevent spread of disease to our other patients and perform the diagnostic tests to confirm a diagnosis. We also believe in being honest with our clients and will disclose information regarding our infectious disease status. If you have any questions or concerns regarding Infection Control in our hospital please contact Dr. Gillian Perkins (607) 253-3100.