General principles of prevention and control

Many animals infected with, and potentially shedding, a zoonotic disease show minimal or no clinical signs. Diseases for which animals are usually or commonly asymptomatic include toxocariasis, salmonellosis, leptospirosis, cat scratch fever, and toxoplasmosis. In addition to the existence of clinically unapparent diseases, many animals will continue to shed infectious agents for some time after recovery from clinically apparent disease, as can be the case for ringworm, salmonella, leptospirosis and others. It is imperative that centre staff realize the potential for any animal to be a potential source of infection, and maintain protective measures as a matter of routine, not just when disease is recognized.

The FOUR PILLARS of effective zoonotic disease management are:

  1. 1Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  2. 2Cleaning and Disinfection
  3. 3Rapid identification and isolation of suspect cases
  4. 4Vaccination upon intake (or before if possible)
    1. 1Gloves should be changed or disinfected after each animal contact, including after handling fomites. A fomite is any inanimate object that can spread disease. Fomites include hands, dishes, litter pans and tools such as grooming implements and poop scoopers. Toys, blankets and dishes should be machine washed or discarded between animals, or should go home with newly adopted animals.
    2. 2Special attention should be paid to intake, arrival/reception, and exam areas. Any exam surfaces or area in which the animal has come in contact with should be cleaned thoroughly after the animal has been taken to the appropiate area. Areas that multiple animals pass through each day, such as "getting acquainted" areas where animals and adopters meet, should be cleaned after each use and thoroughly disinfected at least once a day.
    3. 3Feces should be cleaned up as often as daily required from runs and cages, and should be removed immediately from common play areas and disposed of properly.
    4. 4Dirt and grass play yards, while aesthetically pleasing, can serve as a reservoir for resistant agents such as roundworm. It is particularly important that puppy and kitten play areas be readily cleaned and disinfected, as these young animals are most likely to be affected by many infectious agents.
    5. 5Routine disinfection should be performed using agents effective against most bacteria and viruses. Staff must choose from one of the following disinfectants as: Prevail, PeroxigardPlus, Virkon® or Trifectant®. Centre staff should be aware of agents, such as ringworm, and many other parasitic infestations that require more rigorous or specific disinfection procedures.
    6. 6Animal flow and handling order (healthiest to sickest: adoptable kittens/puppies, adoptable adult animals, stray/quarantine kittens/puppies, stray/quarantine adult animals, isolation areas) should be planned to reduce spread of infectious disease.