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Shelter Medicine: Hands Down, Feet First, Clean Clothing Not Optional

Minimizing the effects of common culprits in disease transmission

Minimizing the effects of common culprits in disease transmission

If your shelter is battling an outbreak of parvo or another highly contagious disease, you can wear shoe covers or designate certain boots for certain areas, as staff at this shelter have done. (Kate Hurley)
Imagine you’re a stray puppy, newly admitted to your friendly local animal shelter. With only your first vaccine under your belt, you remain precariously vulnerable to an assortment of deadly infections. Luckily for you, you find yourself gently placed in a freshly cleaned and disinfected kennel, where a caring staff member has scrubbed all the nooks and crannies and used a disinfectant guaranteed to wipe out every possible germ—even the dreaded parvovirus. Phew. You’re safe now, right?

Well, maybe not. What if, somewhere down the hall, another puppy is shedding some dreaded disease? Are you really safe there in your cozy kennel? You don’t have any plans to be out wandering the aisles, but what’s clinging to that pair of boots walking toward you? What hidden virus might be on the hands of the kind volunteer who reaches down to pet you? And what’s that brownish smear on the caretaker’s shirt as she carries you down the hall to meet a potential adopter?

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