Combat Suit for Ebola Soldiers

Combat suit for Ebola soldiers
Combat suit for Ebola soldiers

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has become one of  the world’s deadliest disease outbreaks to date as almost 8000 people have been infected with this deadly virus and almost half (ballpark amount of 4000) of them are dead. Because of high fatality rate and epidemic nature the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared an international health emergency. Till today, countries affected by Ebola epidemic are Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and the United States of America.

Ebola is spread by direct contact with contaminated body fluids. Blood, vomit and saliva can all carry and spread the deadly virus. So the health workers who are actively involve in treating the Ebola patients are at highest risk of developing the disease.

One of the best prevention technique to avoid Ebola is to wear a protective suit while treating and/or handling patients’ bodily fluids. The health workers e.g. physicians, nurses are advised by WHO and CDC to wear a special protective suit.

The uniform looks like this-

Ebola protective suit (adapted from: BBC news http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29539444)
Ebola protective suit (adapted from: BBC news; available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29539444)
  • Medical mask:  It covers the face of  and protects the health workers and/or care-giver from sprays of blood or body fluids from the patients.
  • Surgical cap:  It offers medical workers an added layer of protection, ensuring that they cannot touch any part of their face.
  • Respirator: “A respirator is worn to protect the wearer from a patient’s coughs” according to guidelines of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)
  • Overalls: The overalls are placed on top of the scrubs. These suits are similar to hazardous material (hazmat) suits worn in toxic environments
  • Medical scrubs: A surgical scrub suit, durable hospital clothing that absorbs liquid and is easily cleaned, is worn as a baseline layer underneath the overalls. It is normally tucked into rubber boots to ensure no skin is exposed.
  • Apron: A waterproof apron is placed on top of the overalls as a final layer of protective clothing
  • Double gloves: Medical workers must  wear at least 2 sets of gloves and change gloves between patients. Heavy duty gloves are also used whenever workers need to handle infectious waste.
  • Boots: Ebola health workers typically wear rubber boots, with the scrubs tucked into the footwear.
Medical staff working with Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) put on their protective gear before entering an isolation area at the MSF Ebola treatment centre in Kailahun
Medical staff working with Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) put on their protective gear before entering an isolation area at the MSF Ebola treatment centre in Kailahun

Those who do get to wear it should keep changing it every 40 minutes to be safe. Inside the suit it can get up to about 40C. Getting into the kit takes about five minutes. Taking it off again takes the wearer and a designated helper “buddy” about 15 minutes.

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