Evaluation of the efficacy of disinfectant footbaths as used in veterinary hospitals

Paul S. Morley Animal Population Health Institute, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, 80523.

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S. Nanea Morris Animal Population Health Institute, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, 80523.
Present address is PO Box 6216, Chandler, AZ 85246-6216.

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Doreene R. Hyatt Animal Population Health Institute, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, 80523.

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David C. Van Metre Animal Population Health Institute, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, 80523.

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Abstract

Objective—To evaluate efficacy of 2 disinfectants as used in footbaths in veterinary hospitals for reducing bacterial contamination of footwear.

Design—Prospective study.

Sample Population—Bacteria collected from the soles of rubber boots after experimental contamination and exposure to disinfectant solutions or control conditions.

Procedures—Investigators contaminated boots by walking through soiled straw animal bedding. Swab samples were collected from the sole of 1 boot (right or left) without treatment. The other boot was briefly immersed in a disinfectant solution (either a quaternary ammonium compound [QAC] or a peroxygen compound) or water, and samples were collected after 7 minutes. Differences associated with the experimental treatments were analyzed statistically. Veterinary teaching hospitals (VTHs) in the United States and Canada were contacted to obtain information about the use of footbaths.

Results—Mean bacterial concentrations from peroxygen-treated boots were 67% to 78% lower, compared with samples taken from untreated boots. In contrast, there were no statistically detectable differences in mean bacterial concentrations in samples taken from QAC- or water-treated boots, compared with control boots. Disinfectant footbaths were reportedly used in 30 of 31 VTHs.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Disinfectant solution containing peroxygen applied in a footbath reduced bacterial concentrations on rubber boots under conditions representative of those found in VTHs. Footbaths are commonly used as a method to control infectious diseases in veterinary hospitals. Disinfectant footbaths should not be expected to sterilize footwear, but they may help in reducing the risk for nosocomial infection when used with effective disinfectants. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2005;226:2053–2058)

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate efficacy of 2 disinfectants as used in footbaths in veterinary hospitals for reducing bacterial contamination of footwear.

Design—Prospective study.

Sample Population—Bacteria collected from the soles of rubber boots after experimental contamination and exposure to disinfectant solutions or control conditions.

Procedures—Investigators contaminated boots by walking through soiled straw animal bedding. Swab samples were collected from the sole of 1 boot (right or left) without treatment. The other boot was briefly immersed in a disinfectant solution (either a quaternary ammonium compound [QAC] or a peroxygen compound) or water, and samples were collected after 7 minutes. Differences associated with the experimental treatments were analyzed statistically. Veterinary teaching hospitals (VTHs) in the United States and Canada were contacted to obtain information about the use of footbaths.

Results—Mean bacterial concentrations from peroxygen-treated boots were 67% to 78% lower, compared with samples taken from untreated boots. In contrast, there were no statistically detectable differences in mean bacterial concentrations in samples taken from QAC- or water-treated boots, compared with control boots. Disinfectant footbaths were reportedly used in 30 of 31 VTHs.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Disinfectant solution containing peroxygen applied in a footbath reduced bacterial concentrations on rubber boots under conditions representative of those found in VTHs. Footbaths are commonly used as a method to control infectious diseases in veterinary hospitals. Disinfectant footbaths should not be expected to sterilize footwear, but they may help in reducing the risk for nosocomial infection when used with effective disinfectants. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2005;226:2053–2058)

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