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Surveillance of hospital acquired infections in veterinary practices

02 March 2022
10 mins read
Volume 13 · Issue 2
Figure 1. Flow chart to show key development stages of a surveillance programme.


The importance of surveillance of hospital-acquired infections (HAI) is often overlooked within the veterinary community, with limited research available, resulting in this vital step being overlooked. When carried out correctly, it allows a practice to accumulate data on the rates of HAIs and ascertain when further action is required. Without these data, practices are often unaware of the severity of their problem. All practices should have an infection control ambassador or committee appointed to ensure these statistics are used correctly and shared with all team members. This article will examine current literature available and determine the pros and cons of each surveillance method and how they may be implemented.

Infection control has become an area of great concern and cause for discussion in veterinary medicine; as hospital-acquired infections (HAI) are constantly changing and mutating, biosecurity needs to be taken seriously. Yet unfortunately, in most practices, surveillance which is defined as ‘the ongoing, systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of health data essential for planning, implementation, and evaluation’ (Gaynes et al, 2001: 295) does not take place (Benedict et al, 2008).

The majority of HAIs go unnoticed within practices (Stull et al, 2018). The awareness of an outbreak is often treated as a measure of effective infection control, thus providing a false sense of security, and failing to reduce the risk of further HAIs. ‘One cannot manage what one does not measure’ (Burgess and Morely, 2015: 235). Surveillance is required to prevent this from occurring, making it an integral part of the working practice, allowing an infection control programme to be based on fact rather than ‘feelings’.

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