OCCUPATIONAL INJURIES AND ZOONOTIC DISEASE AMONG SMALL ANIMAL VETERINARIANS IN KLANG VALLEY, MALAYSIA
Background: The long-standing issue of occupational injuries and zoonotic disease occurrences while handling animals has been kept ‘silent’ in the Malaysian setting. Small animal veterinarians being one of the high-risk groups. Yet, their health and safety matter are not being well taken care of seriously. The aim of this study is to measure the prevalence of occupational injuries, from animal bite, scratch and sharp instruments as well as to quantify the prevalence of zoonotic disease from direct contact among this population.
Materials and Methods: This study employs the cross-sectional method. A total of 199 Occupational Zoonotic Disease Questionnaire were manually distributed to 95 small animal private practices around Klang Valley and the Companion Animal Clinic, UVH, UPM. Analysis was done using IBM SPSS version 22.
Result: Response rate of 70% was achieved. About 96% (n=133) respondents have been injured by their patients, while 78% (n=108) had suffered sharp instrument injury, predominantly from needlestick. Around 85% (n=118) of the respondents practice recapping needle. Finally, more than 76% (n=105) have been infected with at least one type of zoonotic disease through direct contact.
Conclusion: Small animal veterinarians are considered a vulnerable population on being exposed with occupational injuries and zoonotic diseases. With ongoing injuries occurring, this escalates the likelihood of infection to happen. The findings from this study may suggest appropriate preventive plan such as continuous training on the importance of standard precaution and proper health surveillance system. Collaboration between the public health and veterinary sector is needed in order to protect this unique group of population.
Keywords: Occupational health, occupational injuries, occupational zoonotic disease, one health, small animal veterinarians and zoonotic disease.