New JSAP study highlights cleaning shortfalls in practice

5 February 2020

A new study, published in the latest issue of the Journal of Small Animal Practice (JSAP), found that key surfaces in the small animal veterinary hospital setting are unlikely to be cleaned satisfactorily, potentially posing a risk to both animal and human health.

Fluorescent tagging for environmental surface cleaning surveillance in a veterinary hospital1 was undertaken by Langdon et al. at The Ohio State University, USA.1 The research used a fluorescent dye to tag pre-determined surfaces in a large veterinary teaching hospital. The dye was invisible to the naked eye, but fluoresced under a blacklight (UV-A source); it could be easily removed by regular cleaning. Surfaces were tagged and then assessed 24 hours after tag placement to determine whether they had been cleaned. Tagging and assessment took place during non-peak hours in an attempt to eliminate observer bias. The study ran for a period of 5.5 weeks between June and July 2014 and a total of 4984 surfaces were tagged and assessed.

Jason Stull, corresponding author of the paper said: “Overall, 50% of surfaces were adequately cleaned so that the tag was completely removed. Cleaning varied widely by surface/object and hospital location. Of the surfaces designated as having primarily human contact, the equipment cart and door handle to the dog walking area were most frequently cleaned (100%), whilst examination equipment including the otoscope, ophthalmoscope and swivel light handle were the least frequently cleaned (2.3%).

“Of the surfaces designated as having primarily animal contact, the ward cage interior was the most frequently cleaned (89.0%) whilst the dog run interior was the least frequently cleaned (23.1%). In terms of hospital location, the most frequently cleaned area was radiology (77.5%) and the least frequently cleaned area was the small animal treatment area (4.2%).”

The overall proportion of surfaces satisfactorily cleaned was similar to that reported in previous studies, however, the findings for some surfaces and hospital areas differed.2 This demonstrates the importance of veterinary cleaning surveillance in individual practices so that targeted interventions can be implemented.

Nicholas Jeffery, editor of JSAP concluded: “With health-care associated infections being a persistent problem in human and veterinary medicine, it is important that surfaces and equipment within the veterinary practice are adequately cleaned. This research demonstrates the potential use of a commercial fluorescent dye for veterinary cleaning surveillance to inform hospital cleaning practices.”

The full article can be found in the February issue of the Journal of Small Animal Practice which is free for BSAVA members. It can also be read online here.
For information on how to become a BSAVA member visit the website here.
1G. Langdon, A. E. Hoet, J. W. Stull (2020) Fluorescent tagging for environmental surface cleaning surveillance in a veterinary hospital. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 61 (2). Available here.
2J. S. Weese, T. Lowe, M. Walker. (2012) Use of fluorescent tagging for assessment of environmental cleaning and disinfection in a veterinary hospital. Veterinary Record, 171. Available here.