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Important to improve hand hygiene in veterinary care

Press release

AniCura, one of Europe's leading providers of high-quality veterinary care for companion animals, has completed a new study about hand hygiene. The study, which is part of AniCura's development program for medical quality and patient safety, finds that hand hygiene can be improved and that the use of hand sanitisers should increase.

Good hand hygiene is the single most important measure for preventing infection and the spread of microorganisms including resistant bacteria. Accordingly, AniCura investigated the use of hand sanitiser at 61 veterinary clinics across Europe. The study shows an average consumption of 7.6 ml hand sanitiser per patient and day, although there are significant differences between the clinics and across countries in the study.

- The purpose of our study is to highlight the importance of good hand hygiene to all veterinary professionals. In general, the consumption of hand sanitisers in veterinary care needs to increase, especially in Denmark and Germany, says Ulrika Grönlund, Group Medical Quality Manager at AniCura.

Hands can be contaminated with bacteria and viruses from an infected patient or contaminated surfaces. The microorganisms can then transfer to another patient and in worst case cause an infection. Within healthcare, hand sanitisers offer the best and most effective way of removing bacteria and viruses as they do not cause problems with dry and cracked skin, in contrast to the use of soap and water.

Resistant bacteria more common among veterinary professionals

Scientific studies have shown that people who are in contact with companion animals are more than six times likelier to be carriers of resistant intestinal bacteria (known as ESBL-producing bacteria), and that up to 18 per cent of veterinary care staff carried resistant staphylococcus (MRSA) during outbreaks in Swedish animal hospitals*. Being a carrier is not dangerous per se, but for individuals with compromised immune systems or those about to undergo surgery, there is a risk of becoming seriously ill.

- Veterinary professionals are more likely than others to be carriers of resistant bacteria. Therefore, hand hygiene is especially important for us working in veterinary care, concludes Ulrika Grönlund.

The hand hygiene study, which is part of AniCura's quality development program QualiCura, was performed 1-31 May 2017 at 61 clinics in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. The study also found that hand sanitiser dispenser existed in all examination rooms, and almost 80 per cent of the veterinary clinics in the study had documented hygiene routines and guidelines.


*Grönlund Andersson U, Wallensten A, Hæggman S, Greko C, Hedin G, Hökeberg I, Lindström F, Olsson-Liljequist B, Smedjegård J, Söderblom T, Windahl U, Struwe J. Outbreaks of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus among staff and dogs in Swedish small animal hospitals. Scand J Infect Dis. 2014 Apr;46(4):310-4.

Meyer E1, Gastmeier P, Kola A, Schwab F. Pet animals and foreign travel are risk factors for colonisation with extended-spectrum β-lactamase-producing Escherichia coli. Infection. 2012 Dec;40(6):685-7.


For further information please contact
Ulrika Grönlund, Group Medical Quality Manager, AniCura, +46 706 387 562
Maria Tullberg, Group Communications Manager, AniCura, +46 736 268 886