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Handling and Housing Patients with Zoonotic Infections

Introduction

When an infectious disease that potentially poses a risk to other animals visiting or housed at the VH is included on the list of potential differential diagnoses, the following steps must be taken. Communication and diligent hand washing are essential for preventing potential transmission within the hospital. 

Protocol for Admitting or Receiving Animals with RDVM-Suspected Zoonotic Infection

When a patient is admitted that the RDVM suspects has a zoonotic infection, the animal should be handled, caged, and considered to have a potentially zoonotic infection until the house officer discusses the case with a senior clinician and determines the patient is not likely a risk.  Next, this should be communicated appropriately to the staff.  This may occur during or after normal business hours.

Protocol for Re-admitting Animals Previously determined to have a Zoonotic Infection 

Animals that have been diagnosed with a zoonotic infection should be identified as such via the electronic medical record prior to being discharged.  Upon re-admitting the patient to the NC State Veterinary Hospital, the patient should be handled as if it has a zoonotic infection until one of the following criteria are met:

  • If, in the judgment of the attending senior clinician, there is resolution of the patient’s infection and clinical signs, appropriate treatment has occurred, and/or a sufficient length of time has passed to suggest the animal is no longer contagious.
  • A negative diagnostic test from a representative sample is finalized in the patient’s record.
  • The infected tissue has been removed and the site is healed as determined by an NC State Veterinary Hospital clinician

If one of these criteria are met, clinicians must note those involved in the discussion, note the outcome in the medical record, and electronically inform a member of the infectious disease committee, prior to handling the animal normally. 

Examples include Salmonella, Mycobacterium, Leptospira

Steps that must be taken

General Communication

  • Inform the senior clinician and technician supervisor. If they are not available or if you have questions, contact the Director of Small Animal Clinical Services.

Handling

  • Any person handling the animal should use gloves and other appropriate personal protective equipment (e.g. gowns).
  • Hands must be washed after handling the animal and after glove removal.
  • Specimens must be labeled with a green sticker, stating "zoonotic potential."

Transport and Housing

Identified at the time of first contact by receptionist or CT.

  • Contact the senior clinician, who will discuss the case with the technician supervisor to determine if the animal needs to be immediately placed in isolation or another type of restriction.

Identified in the examination room:

  • Leave the animal in the examination room and contact the senior clinician and the technician supervisor who will assign cleaning staff to disinfect the room.
  • Place a sign on the room to prevent anyone else from entering.  Signs are available in each examination room.

Identified after admission:

  • The animal must be transported on a cart, dedicated to that animal.            

If moving within the hospital at the time it is determined the animal has a zoonotic infection, either place the animal directly in isolation or if you are unsure, return the animal to its current cage and contact the treating technician assigned to the patient, the technician supervisor and/or the senior clinician.