CHENNAI: The improper disposal of discarded face masks, gloves, and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) continues unabated leading to serious health concerns for both humans and animals alike. This time, a 6-month-old Siberian Husky nearly fell prey when the dog accidentally ingested a cloth face mask.
The mask slipped into the puppy's stomach and the owner immediately contacted Dr S Balasubramanian, Director of Clinics, Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) for help.
"The pet owner contacted me on June 7th night. Our medical team did all the necessary investigations, including blood profiling and ultrasound scans. Luckily, the face mask did not enter the intestine and was still in the stomach. Otherwise, surgery would have been needed," he said.
On June 9, a team of veterinarians consisting Dr S Kavitha, Dr P Pothiappan, Dr PA Inbavelan from Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine performed the Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy procedure under the personnel supervision and support of the Director of Clinics.
"It's a non-invasive procedure. Under general anesthesia, we retrieved the face mask. The dog had an uneventful recovery. We should be extremely careful while disposing of PPE material to avoid accidental ingestion by pets and livestock. The common mistake people commit is mixing these materials with municipal solid waste rather than segregating and disposing of them according to prescribed rules," Dr Balasubramanian told The New Indian Express.
Meanwhile, environment secretary Supriya Sahu had tweeted about the TANUVAS team retrieving face mask from the stomach of the Husky along with the video of the procedure. In the tweet, she said: "The masks we carelessly throw away can end up killing animals. A team of veterinarians from TANUVAS, Chennai successfully removed a face mask from the stomach of a Siberian Husky dog. Video not for faint hearted. Please ensure safe disposal."
In 2018, the TANUVAS team had removed over 50 kgs of plastic from the stomach of a single cow.