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The infections which do occur frequently (e.g. dermatophytosis, salmonellosis) can often easily be prevented by taking proper hygienic measures. Minimal recommendations should include: no eating and drinking while animals are being handled, washing of the hands after handling animals (i.e. facilities should be present).
In addition, cages of exotic pets should not be cleaned in sinks where food may be prepared for human consumption.
As practitioners we should function as role models. Wash your hands after each animal examination, wear scrubs or a lab coat when working with animals, do not allow drinking and eating in the clinic (a separate area should be present). Before eating, drinking or smoking: take of your scrubs and wash your hands. In the Netherlands some practices have developed a “no lab coat”
policy. The idea behind this policy is to lower anxiety
of the animals while being examined. From a hygienic standpoint, however, this policy should be discouraged as this highly potentiates the risks of transmitting zoonoses.
References for further reading
- Avashia SB, Petersen JM, Lindley CM, Schriefer ME, Gage KL, Cetron M, DeMarcus TA, Kim DK, Buck J, Montenieri JA, Lowell JL. First reported prairie dog–to-human tularemia transmission, Texas, 2002. Emerging infectious diseases. 2004 Mar;10(3):483.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC. Update: multistate outbreak of monkeypox--Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin, 2003. MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report. 2003 Jul 11;52(27):642.
- Chomel BB, Belotto A, Meslin FX. Wildlife, exotic pets, and emerging zoonoses. Emerging infectious diseases. 2007 Jan;13(1):6.
- Palmer SR, Soulsby L, Simpson DI. Zoonoses: biology, clinical practice and public health control. Oxford university press; 1998.
- Riley PY, Chomel BB. Hedgehog Zoonoses. Emerging Infectious Disease journal-CDC. 2005 Jan;11(1):1-5.
- Sorvillo F, Ash LR, Berlin OG, Yatabe J, Degiorgio C, Morse SA. Baylisascaris procyonis: an emerging helminthic zoonosis.(Synopsis). Emerging infectious diseases. 2002 Apr 1;8(4):355-60.
- Woodward DL, Khakhria R, Johnson WM. Human salmonellosis associated with exotic pets. Journal of Clinical Microbiology. 1997 Nov 1;35(11):2786-90.
An Urban Experience

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