Ebola Can Attack From Hazmat Suit Surfaces

Sheila M. Eldred | Discovery News | September 9, 2014

Over 120 health care workers have died in the Ebola outbreak. Now, doctors are warning each other to be ever-vigilant in precautions, down to how to take off protective gear at the end of a shift.  “The physical exhaustion and emotional fatigue that come with caring for patients infected with Ebola may further increase the chance of an inadvertent exposure to bodily fluids on the outside of the personal protective equipment, leading to unwanted contact when the gear is removed,” experts from Johns Hopkins and the University of North Carolina wrote in the Annals of Internal Medicine.  “The impulse to wipe away sweat in the ever-present hot, humid environment during personal protective equipment removal may lead to inadvertent inoculation of mucous membranes” in and on the nose, mouth and eyes.

Doctors Without Borders even recommends a buddy system to remind each other of proper protocol when removing gear.  Last week, an American missionary couple who worked in Liberia told The Associated Press that there wasn’t enough protective gear for health care workers.  “We don’t have enough personal protective safety equipment to adequately be able to safely diagnose if a patient has Ebola. So they are putting themselves at risk,” said David Writebol, whose wife, Nancy, recovered from Ebola.

“Ebola transmission can be interrupted with simple interventions and by focusing on basics,” the authors write. “Providing an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, along with a ritualized process for donning and doffing personal protective equipment, are desperately needed to prevent further unnecessary infection and loss of life among the heroic health care workers who are on the front lines of this war.”...