Protective Suits Not Perfect Prevention Against Ebola

Protective Suits Not Perfect Prevention Against Ebola

The CDC and President Obama have assured the nation that the protective “moon suits” worn by medical personnel to prevent contracting Ebola are all hospitals need to keep the deadly virus at bay. But several nurses in Texas have contracted Ebola despite using these suits. So, what are the flaws in this system of protection?

Aryn Baker of TIME notes that there is a major flaw in these full-body Personal Protective Equipment suits (PPE’s). It isn’t necessarily in their donning and use but in their removal.

“A PPE is usually made up of a full-body, impermeable suit with a hood, rubber boots covered by Tyvek booties, multiple pairs of surgical gloves, a surgical mask over the nose and mouth, a plastic bib, goggles, a plastic apron and a lot of duct tape,” Baker writes.

But while the protection is supposed to be pretty good, putting them on takes two people and at least ten minutes of careful attention. More to the point, should they be covered in bodily fluids, taking them off is “a clumsy, arduous process with multiple opportunities to make a lethal mistake.”

This arduous process causes a “false sense of security” and raises the possibility that healthcare workers might get careless in the procedure of putting on and taking off the suits.

As Baker reports, even the crews in Africa that use the suits to bury those who died from Ebola have had a few of their number contract the disease and they follow their de-suiting procedures with “military precision.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at


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