Fomite: The one F-word you may be unfamiliar with
As in…”Sometimes I feel like a fomite.” OK, so that’s not quite right but it’s how I felt today after my early morning emergency tanked out two hours after his arrival. He’d succumbed presumably as the result of some mysterious infectious disease. “Tanked out”: as in… “Dead.”
A fomite is the F-word we use to refer to inanimate objects that carry infectious diseases. Our shoes, for example, after we’ve tread in and out of a pile of nasty vomit or feces—or trace remnants of these, as is most often the case.
After carrying the dog in from the owner’s truck, setting up his IV line, performing a physical exam, testing blood and stool and dosing him with drugs, I’d surely been contaminated beyond repair.
We set up Clorox zones throughout the hospital, decontaminated the treatment table, changed our scrubs and disinfected our shoes, but it’s a small place. So we shut it down for all pups and well dogs, canceling appointments left and right. We decontaminated by sloshing diluted Clorox everywhere. Then again at lunchtime.
The vaccinated dogs already in hospital were OK to touch after scrupulous washing, but I wasn’t happy they were there. I had owners come pick them up if they were well enough to discharge.
It’s fair to say that today’s been a stressful day. I saw quite a few cats and was still able to take care of my surgeries, including a feline leg amputation, but my own dog’s presence didn’t make me happy.
Lunchtime saw me rushing home with Sophie to drop her safely into her crate and scrub the heck out of my skin in the shower.
Doggie Ebola. That’s what it looked like. I was taking no chances.
Luckily we were able to shut the doors early, flinging Clorox around for good measure and decontaminating even the cages far away from the scene of the crime.
Though the dog never left the corner of the hospital closest to the back door (thankfully!) fomite transmission is potentially a really big deal. So everyone’s to soak their shoes and scrubs in a dilute Clorox solution overnight.
We may be back to business as usual tomorrow but we’re almost certainly going to be a shade lighter than we were today, what with all that bleach. Now, if only I could get that Clorox stench out of my nostrils!