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Service Animals in Dental Health Care Settings

What is a service animal?

A service animal is any animal trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. A service animal is not considered a pet but rather an animal trained to provide assistance to a person because of a disability. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 mandates that people with disabilities accompanied by service animals be allowed access with their service animals to places of public accommodation, including health care facilities.

Should any special infection prevention measures be used when a patient is accompanied by a service animal?

No evidence suggests that animals pose a more significant risk of transmitting infection than people; therefore, service animals should not be excluded from such areas unless a patient’s situation or a particular animal poses risk that cannot be mitigated through reasonable measures. If health care personnel, visitors, and patients are permitted to enter care areas (e.g., inpatient rooms and public areas) without taking additional precautions to prevent transmission of infectious agents (e.g., putting on gloves, gowns, or masks), a clean, healthy, well-behaved service animal should be allowed access with its handler.

No reports have been published regarding infectious diseases that affect humans originating in service dogs. Standard cleaning procedures are sufficient following occupation of an area by a service animal. Cleanup of animal urine, feces, or other body substances can be accomplished with blood/body substance procedures as outlined in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2003 dental guidelines. See FAQ Cleaning & Disinfecting Environmental Surfaces.

References

CDC. Guidelines for environmental infection control in health-care facilities: recommendations of CDC and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC). MMWR 2003; 52 (No. RR-10): 1–48. https://www.cdc.gov/hicpac/pdf/guidelines/eic_in_HCF_03.pdf [PDF-5M].  Accessed March 16, 2016.

CDC. Guidelines for infection control in dental health-care settings – 2003. MMWR 2003; 52(No. RR-17):1–66. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/rr/rr5217.pdf [PDF-1.2M]. Accessed March 16, 2016.

U.S. Department of Justice. Americans with Disabilities Act. Public Law 101-336 (28 CFR 36.101 et seq.). Title III, Public Accomodations Operated by Private Entities, Sect. 302, Prohibition of Discrimination by Public Accomodations;42 USC 12101 et seq. July 26, 1990.

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