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Vet practices admit they need to get tough on infections 

New research from the professional division of Miele has revealed that the majority of UK vet practices feel the need to get tougher in the fight against infectious diseases, with many currently struggling to follow hygiene best practice. However, vets also say that more responsibility for hygiene needs to be taken by pet owners.

Fifty-seven per cent of the 100 vets surveyed believe their practice could do more to prevent the spread of infection and 79 per cent are concerned that they are not consistently following correct hygiene protocols. Fifty-four per cent need more staff training and 53 per cent want to be able to give staff more time between appointments to allow longer for more thorough disinfection of equipment and surfaces.

Miele’s research also suggested that vets may need to do more to educate pet owners on the threats of poor hygiene and the spread of infection. Only 14 per cent believe that pet owners know enough about this, and pets not being vaccinated against disease was the second most common frustration vets felt about owners’ standards of pet care.

Effective laundry equipment and processes was one of several factors considered vital to achieving hygiene best practice. This included ensuring soiled animal bedding is washed separately to other items at consistently high temperatures, to making sure no infected waste water can flow back into the clean water supply.

This water backflow issue could be a significant infection factor due to the high level of domestic washers in use within the vet practices surveyed. Yet 46 per cent use domestic washing machines which offer no water backflow protection.

Vet practices are expected to use WRAS Category 5 compliant commercial laundry equipment for backflow protection. The survey showed around half are definitely not doing this. In fact, 91 per cent of the practices surveyed said they were not WRAS compliant and 75 per cent say they haven’t even considered the need to be.  

Simon Hart, National Account Manager at the Professional division of Miele, said: “A busy vets practice is naturally focused on the care and health of its animal patients, however, hygiene standards are a vital aspect of this. With a full schedule of appointments, it can be difficult to effectively ensure all infection control procedures are covered. As a result, it’s easy for vets to overlook the important role laundry has to play as part of this process.”

Miele is urging vets to PAWS for thought on laundry and infection control with these following simple guidelines:

  • Protect: Use disposable gloves and aprons to protect yourself from contaminated linen
  • Attention: Segregate soiled and clean laundry to prevent cross contamination
  • Wash: Use a commercial machine to wash at high temperatures needed to kill infection      
  • Safeguard: Dry laundered items in a tumble dryer to ensure any remaining bacteria is killed

Miele’s vet research was conducted in 2018 independently by Sapio research. The 100 respondents included 64 vet practice owners, 7 senior partners and 29 employed vets.


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