Dogs May Pose Infection Risk in Health Care Settings
While the idea of calming anxious dental patients with a well-trained, adorable therapy or comfort dog appeals to most, new research shows that the use of such animals is not without risk.
While the idea of calming anxious dental patients with a well-trained, adorable therapy or comfort dog appeals to most, new research shows that the use of such animals is not without risk. The study included 45 children who came into contact with four therapy dogs during 13 visits in an oncology outpatient department at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore.
None of the children had tested positive for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) prior to contact with the therapy dogs. After the children interacted with the dogs, MRSA was found on 10.2% of the subjects and 38.5% of the dogs. However, once the dogs were washed with a chlorhexidine-based shampoo prior to the visits and then cleaned with chlorhexidine wipes during the visits, the risk of spreading MRSA was reduced by 90%. The study results also found that the subjects who interacted with the therapy dogs experienced decreased blood pressure and heart rate and noted an improved mental state after the completion of the visit.
These results were presented at IDWeek, a meeting of different types of health professionals to support interprofessional collaboration and cooperation, in October. The researchers are planning a randomized controlled trial over 5 years to see whether the results can be replicated with a larger study sample.
From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. December 2018;16(12):9.