Hospital Footwear and Bacteria

A study published in the April edition of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) shows little difference in bacteria counts collected in an equine hospital while staff observed different footwear protocols.

Researchers at the Colorado State University Veterinary Medical Center studied bacteria samples from the hospital floor as staff used footbaths and footmats containing different disinfecting agents. Bacteria counts were also measured while workers wore shoes other than the hospital's assigned rubber overboots.

Hospital workers step in the footbaths at assigned locations throughout the hospital to avoid spreading bacteria from one patient to another. While previous studies have shown that different disinfecting agents can decrease the amount of bacteria on the sole of staff workers' boots, this study looked at whether the amount of bacteria deposited on the hospital floor was affected by the kind of disinfectant used.

Study results indicate that there was no appreciable difference in the aerobic bacteria counts while using rubber overboots with quaternary ammonium compound or peroxygen disinfectants, nor between the use of overboots and unregulated footwear while observing the same hygiene protocols, including peroxygen disinfection.

While the differing protocols showed no consistent trends in bacteria counts, the researchers did not study the possible effect that no footwear hygiene procedures could have on a working equine hospital. They therefore emphasized that while no appreciable difference was found between types of disinfectants, that footwear hygiene protocols are still of vital importance.

About the Author

Erin Ryder

Erin Ryder is a former news editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care. She owns a portly gray gelding named Duncan and dabbles in several equestrian disciplines, with an emphasis on dressage.

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