While several strains of the Ebola virus have been present in Africa since 1976, the virus has not been a threat in the United States until September of 2014 when a traveler from Liberia exhibited symptoms while visiting the U.S. Texas nurse Nina Pham contracted the Ebola virus while treating the Liberian patient Thomas Eric Duncan. Questions abound about the safety protocols at the Dallas hospital where Pham contracted the virus. One thing we do know for certain, though, is that protective gear is essential for anyone coming into contact with these patients.
How can nonwovens protect healthcare workers from contracting the deadly Ebola virus?
- PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) acts as a barrier. Barrier efficiency is especially important when dealing with a highly communicable disease. It is especially important to use nonwoven fabrics treated with a liquid resistant finish. Nonwoven manufacturing partners can work in conjunction with manufacturers of PPE to achieve maximum barrier efficiency.
- Nonwovens can be disposed of easily. Single-use nonwovens are especially effective when combating infectious diseases. Protective gear can be removed in isolation and disposed of in specialized waste containers to prevent the spread of germs. Examples of disposable nonwovens for patient care include: surgical masks, shoe covers, and coveralls.
- Nonwovens can be treated with disinfectants. Medical wipes can be treated to efficiently clean surfaces to eliminate germs. According to the CDC, the Ebola virus can survive for several hours on dried surfaces like doorknobs and countertops, making it especially important for hospitals to have treated medical wipes on hand for disinfecting isolation rooms.
The CDC states that healthcare workers treating Ebola patients run the highest risk of getting sick. Hospitals around the country are examining protocols and ensuring that they have the appropriate PPE for personnel who may have to treat infected Ebola patients. Nonwovens will almost certainly play a role in protecting healthcare workers today and in the future.
Blog image courtesy Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net