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Hygiene and biosecurity advice for vet teams and clients alike

Via a new website and self-audit app, the Bella Moss Foundation says it is continuing to educate both the profession and clients.

“Infection control, biosecurity and hygiene have never been more important than they are now, nor have they had a higher profile in the eyes of the public,” says Chris Laurence, a trustee of the Bella Moss Foundation (BMF).

“But knowledge about all the related issues is generally so poor that there remains much to do, not least de-bunking some of the myths around how infections are transmitted and about the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

“We need to help the public understand the issue whilst at the same time helping vets to do their best to educate their clients. Scare stories abound across the internet and we need more well-informed and understandable resources like those on the BMF website –”

David Morley, a strategic adviser to the foundation, says the revamped website provides the ideal platform for the public and veterinary surgeries to learn about hygiene and biosecurity from a totally independent not-for-profit source.

Dr Samantha Bloomfield, educational adviser to the foundation, says the website offers an evidence-based one-stop shop for veterinary professionals seeking trusted, reliable information on infection control and dealing with resistant microbial infections in the veterinary environment.

“It is unique in its role and is accessed by veterinary professionals worldwide,” she adds.

Open access resources on the website are recommended by the RCVS practice standards scheme and provide a framework for practices to develop their own site-specific protocols.

Supportive materials provided for practices by the foundation include a self-audit app which provides the practice with:

• a simple hygiene self-audit tool available to use on a PC or as an app, and

• a summary and score provided to allow tracking of progress.

This app was developed by Dr Tim Nuttall, Pam Mosedale and the late Louise O’Dwyer to support the RCVS PSS accreditation and awards criteria.

The new website gives access to the self-audit app, making it even easier for practices to embrace assessing and monitoring their infection control procedures.

Jill Moss, who founded the BMF, says the self-audit app is an invaluable tool for keeping check on cleaning practices and its self-generated report is accepted as evidence for the PSS. Practices have reported on the ease of use of the audit and many that use the tool report they regularly use it to help maintain standards and check for any emerging issues.

“The BMF has fantastic resources to support this practice role and provides CPD links as well as recommended reading and links to academic papers.

“For all practices, but essential for those preparing for PSS awards, the website has excellent free resources that can be emailed or printed off for clients to help educate them about responsible use of antimicrobials, antimicrobial resistance and zoonoses, and the implications for animal and human health,” Jill states.

“We initially focused on MRSA in pets, but now our remit has broadened to protecting people and pets from infections and diseases that can be easily prevented through good hygiene. We are now embarking on updating our information for the veterinary profession through our infection control guidelines which will be reviewed in the summer of 2021 and producing short videos for the public throughout the year which support our messages.

“The way we help is two-fold: if veterinary staff require more information, we put them in touch with our clinical board of advisers who can support staff with management for their clinical cases; and we support pet owners with the information and resources for caring for infected pets in the home as owners can become quite confused and anxious about living with pets who have resistant infections.”

Jill adds: “Prevention is the key to keeping people and pets healthy. COVID-19 has brought home to the world how important it is to protect ourselves with sensible hygiene and social distancing and, moving forward, the BMF will be reinforcing this importance.

“I am proud that the foundation is a friend of the pet owner and an ally of the veterinary profession as we all work together to modernise and revaluate a way of keeping pets and people healthy in a world that is constantly changing.”

• The BMF was established in April 2005 and became a registered charity in 2007. It was set up after Jill Moss’s dog Bella, a 10-year-old Samoyed, died of an MRSA infection which went undetected and became systemic. Soon after Bella died, Jill contracted the same strain of MRSA and nearly lost a leg.

Jill acknowledges the support of DEFRA, the VMD, NOAH, the RVC, the Royal (Dick) veterinary school, the BVA, BSAVA and BVNA as well as Public Health England, which are the charity’s educational partners.

The BMF’s aim is to pioneer education for both the veterinary profession and the public about the spread of resistant bacteria between humans and animals, and it offers informed support on the management of resistant bacteria and resulting infections for: (a) owners of pets with resistant infections, (b) vets and veterinary nurses and (c) doctors, nurses and pharmacists.

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