Medichem and the Equine Olympics and Paralympics

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LOCOG (London Committee for the Organisation of the Games) chose Medichem International to advise on infection control procedures for the stables, transporting and veterinary centres for the Equesterian Olympics at Greenwich this year. More than 200 equine athletes, shipping in from over 40 countries, had to be protected from cross infection and this was listed as top priority. To deal with this, LOCOG appointed Professor Josh Slater, Principal of the Royal Veterinary College to take charge of the infection control programmes. Josh Slater called on Medichem to provide a hygiene protocol to be used across all equine facilities for the Olympics. Having learned from the experience gained at the Hong Kong Jockey Club stabling site used for the Olympics in 2008, we were in a strong position to make recommendations to Professor Slater. Arrivals from various countries (including UK) first went through an ‘Equine Staging Facility’ (EFS) where veterinary inspection of the horses was undertaken, before they could be transferred to the main site at Greenwich. Hygiene at the ESF was paramount since here was the first area where a horse presenting possible symptoms of illness would be examined and isolated before it could act as a transmission agent to others.

The most important part of any infection control policy is the establishment of a logical and effective cleaning and disinfection policy which follows similar rules to those that are (supposed to be) followed in the human health-care environment. This is all very well in the veterinary practice, or even in a large animal welfare establishment. Both of these tend to follow well-established routines, conducted by knnowledgeable nursing practitioners. Because of this, where good infection control policy is in place, cross-infections between boarders/patients are relatively uncommon. However, the cleaning and hygiene protocol in the Olympics stables was implimented in the main by team grooms and support staff, so it was important to provide easy to understand instructions on use and preparation, some of which were based on pictograms to help overcome the language issues.

The main stabling areas at Greenwich Park were constructed on a slightly elevated platform to avoid contact with the park environment and to contain waste products. Water was at a premium and drainage of a normally expected large quantity of rinse water from pre-washing by conventional detergents was regarded as unacceptable by LOCOG. We had, therefore, to design the Cleaning and Disinfection protocol around a system of minimal water useage and a single application of a dual-purpose disinfectant/cleaner. Anigene HLD4V High Level, Defra approved disinfectant proved ideal for the purpose.

Simple rules were rigorously enforced, including careful scrubbing and disinfecting of footwear on entry and exit, mandatory hand washing with Vetscrub CHX before entry to horse examination areas or stables and a readily available supply of Chemgene High Level Disinfectant Wipes and Anigene HLD4V trigger sprays to facilitate wiping down of ay areas. Cleaning and disinfection to a high level took place on the exit of each equine patient from an examination area and before the entry of the next. Flat surfaces, mangers, door edges, walls and floors - all had to cleaned in the same meticulous way, as did the vehicles used for transporting the equine athletes.

The routine implementation of strict veterinary precautions and the front line defence afforded by the use of Defra approved High Level Disinfectant/Cleaner together created reliable barrier against cross-infection, hopefully making a positive contribution to the success of the London Equine Olympic and Paralympic Games - 2012.

About the author:

Jim Hayman is Chairman of Medichem International (Marketing) Ltd, a veterinary biocides manufacturer established over 20 years ago. Jim was recently invited to prepare the detailed cleaning and disinfecting policy for all key stabling, examination and equine transport facilities at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Medichem’s previous recommendations implemented in Hong Kong for the 2008 Games has proved a huge sucess and had built on the previous fifteen years of infection control excellence at the Hong Kong Jockey Club using Medichem disinfectants.

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