Personal Protective Actions and Equipment

Hand hygiene: Wash hands before and after each patient encounter and after contact with feces, body fluids, vomitus, exudates, or articles contaminated by these substances. Wash hands before eating, drinking, or smoking; after using the toilet; after cleaning animal cages or animal-care areas; and whenever hands are visibly soiled. Alcohol-based rubs may be used if hands are not visibly soiled, but hand washing with soap and running water is preferred. Keep fingernails short. Do not wear artificial nails or hand jewelry when handling animals. Keep hand- washing supplies stocked at all times.

Correct hand washing procedure:

  • Wet hands with running water
  • Place soap in palms
  • Rub hands together to make a lather
  • Scrub hands thoroughly for 20 seconds
  • Rinse soap off hands
  • Dry hands with disposable towel
  • Turn off faucet using the disposable towel to avoid hand contact

Correct use of hand rubs:

  • Place alcohol-based hand rub in palms
  • Apply to all surfaces of hands
  • Rub hands together until dry

Use of gloves and sleeves: Gloves are not necessary when examining or handling healthy animals. Wear gloves or sleeves when touching feces, body fluids, vomitus, exudates, and non- intact skin. Wear gloves for dentistry, resuscitations, necropsies, and obstetrical procedures; when cleaning cages, litter boxes, and contaminated environmental surfaces and equipment; when handling dirty laundry; when handling diagnostic specimens (e.g., urine, feces, aspirates, or swabs); and when handling an animal with a suspected infectious disease. Change gloves between examination of individual animals or animal groups (e.g., a litter of puppies) and between dirty and clean procedures performed on the same patient. Gloves should be removed promptly and disposed of after use. Disposable gloves should not be washed and reused. Hands should be washed immediately after glove removal.

Facial protection: Wear facial protection whenever splashes or sprays are likely to occur. Use a face shield, or goggles worn with a surgical mask. Wear facial protection for the following procedures: lancing abscesses, flushing wounds, dentistry, nebulization, suctioning, lavage, obstetrical procedures, and necropsies.

Protective outerwear: Wear a protective outer garment such as a lab coat, smock, non-sterile gown, or coveralls when attending animals and when conducting cleaning chores. Outerwear should be changed and laundered daily. These should also be changed whenever soiled, after handling an animal with a known or suspected infectious disease, after working in an isolation room, and after performing a necropsy or other high-risk procedure. Impermeable outwear should be worn during obstetric procedures and necropsies and whenever substantial splashes or large quantities of body fluids may be encountered. Shoes or boots should have thick soles and closed toes and be impermeable to water and easily cleaned. Disposable shoe covers should be worn when heavy quantities of infectious materials are present or expected. Promptly remove and dispose of shoe covers and booties when leaving contaminated work areas. Clean shoes or boots between farm visits. Keep clean outer garments available at all times.

Animal-related injury prevention: Take precautions to prevent bites and other injuries. Identify aggressive animals and alert clinic staff. Use physical restraints, muzzles, bite-resistant gloves, and sedation or anesthesia in accordance with practice policies. Plan an escape route when handling large animals. Do not rely on owners or untrained staff for animal restraint. Routine incident report procedures will be followed in case an injury occurs.