In theory, it's hard to argue with foot baths: When you step in the germicidal solution, infectious agents are killed before they can be tracked throughout the shelter.
That's theory. The reality? Foot baths can become cesspools that, according to the ASPCA's Dr. Stephanie Janeczko, Senior Director, Shelter Medicine Programs, "can actually spread disease rather than prevent it."
Four Reasons You Should Give Foot Baths the Boot
- Not enough contact time with disinfectants
Foot baths are meant for quickly dipping your shoes in before walking in high-traffic and/or contaminated areas. But many pathogens, particularly parvo, require at least ten minutes of direct contact with the sanitizing agent before being killed. The quick nature of foot baths, er, "defeets" the purpose.
- Organic matter
Foot baths become contaminated with organic matter like dirt and feces, thereby diminishing their effectiveness since many viruses and bacteria require organic matter to survive.
- Lack of scrubbing
Foot baths are more effective coupled with the scrubbing of the bottom of the shoes. However, this takes additional time and creates a Catch 22, whereby you are adding more organic matter to the foot bath, thus rendering it less sterile.
4. Water often not deep enough
Frequently in a shelter setting, foot baths consist of litter boxes containing a towel soaked with a small amount of disinfectant. At best, these shallow foot baths are ineffective. At worst, the added moisture on shoes and floors might actually promote the survival and spread of pathogens.
Ready to step up to an alternative to foot baths? Using dedicated boots or disposable shoe covers is the recommended protocol to control highly contagious diseases such as parvo or ringworm.
What do you do in your shelter to prevent the transmission of disease from foot traffic?
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