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J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2008 Jun 15;232(12):1863-72. doi: 10.2460/javma.232.12.1863.

Infection control practices and zoonotic disease risks among veterinarians in the United States.

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  • 1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases, 1600 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.


OBJECTIVE-To assess the knowledge and use of infection control practices (ICPs) among US veterinarians. DESIGN-Anonymous mail-out population survey. PROCEDURES-In 2005 a questionnaire was mailed to US small animal, large animal, and equine veterinarians who were randomly selected from the AVMA membership to assess precaution awareness (PA) and veterinarians' perceptions of zoonotic disease risks. Respondents were assigned a PA score (0 to 4) on the basis of their responses (higher scores representing higher stringency of ICPs); within a practice type, respondents' scores were categorized as being within the upper 25% or lower 75% of scores (high and low PA ranking, respectively). Characteristics associated with low PA rankings were assessed. RESULTS-Generally, respondents did not engage in protective behaviors or use personal protective equipment considered appropriate to protect against zoonotic disease transmission. Small animal and equine veterinarians employed in practices that had no written infection control policy were significantly more likely to have low PA ranking. Male gender was associated with low PA ranking among small animal and large animal veterinarians; equine practitioners not working in a teaching or referral hospital were more likely to have low PA ranking than equine practitioners working in such institutions. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE-Results indicated that most US veterinarians are not aware of appropriate personal protective equipment use and do not engage in practices that may help reduce zoonotic disease transmission. Gender differences may influence personal choices for ICPs. Provision of information and training on ICPs and establishment of written infection control policies could be effective means of improving ICPs in veterinary practices.

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