On Global Handwashing Day (15 October) this past Sunday, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) urged animal owners and handlers to ensure they maintain good disease prevention and infection control, which starts with the simple act of handwashing.
AVA president Dr Paula Parker said that handwashing before and after handling an animal is a highly important measure in preventing the spread of infection and disease from animals to humans, and vice versa.
“It’s important that pet owners, farmers, producers and anyone who handles animals practises good personal biosecurity, and washing your hands before and after handling an animal is an essential part of that,” Dr Parker said.
In Australia, the relationship between owners and their pets has become more personal and dogs and cats are increasingly viewed as part of the family. Growing urbanisation also means that pets are spending more time inside with their owners.
“While this is certainly a positive trend in pet ownership, sharing an environment means that bacteria are transferring freely between pets and owners, which increases the risk of the spread of infection and zoonotic diseases,” Dr Parker said.
“Handwashing before and after handling a pet is a simple thing that pet owners can do to reduce the risk of infection and disease from spreading.”
On the farm, handwashing is considered an important biosecurity measure and good hand hygiene should be practised by producers and farmers.
Dr Parker stressed that hand hygiene is, in fact, important in any situation where people might have contact with an animal.
“Wherever animals are present, such as petting zoos, aged care facilities and hospitals with visiting dogs, and any other environments that allow close contact with animals, [all] should encourage good hand hygiene and have appropriate handwashing facilities available.”
Based on a media release sourced from the AVA website.