by Kolapo Olapoju
Sheik Umar Khan, a Sierra Leone doctor treating Ebola patients, was wearing a protective gear, yet somehow, he caught the virus and died from it.
This instance frightens several health workers who are currently working with or might have to work with Ebola victims at some point.
But apparently, if the right protective clothing is worn properly and with maximum care, contacting the virus can be minimal, if not impossible.
Armand Sprecher, the medical adviser to ‘Doctors Without Borders’ for hemorrhagic fevers, such as Ebola says that health workers must make use of the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).
It is a fluid impervious yellow suit that is made of a woven plastic fiber. But to work efficiently, it has to be used in conjunction with a set of behaviors and procedures.
Sprecher says health care worker can only get infected when the PPE is not worn appropriately or when they have contaminated their hands in the process of getting [the suit] off.
She said, “The presumed way you get sick is if the virus gets into a mucus membrane inside your mouth, nose or eyes. If you were very, very good about keeping your hands off your face, you could probably get away with more exposed skin above the neck. But we like to cover [health workers] from the neck up. So when the hand goes to the face in an unconscious movement, it doesn’t touch anything.”
“Let’s say you’re wearing some sort of material that covers you from the neck down — something that’s permeable — and somebody vomited on your sleeve and fluid got through and got on your arm. Honestly, you should be OK. It won’t get on you in a large volume. The vomit dries out, and the virus becomes inactive. Ebola doesn’t last very long on a clean, dry surface.”