New and improved Ebola suit will better prevent contamination

Ebola Outbreak

A team of scientists in the Washington, D.C. area have developed a better suit to protect health care workers fighting the Ebola epidemic. CCTV America’s Frances Kuo reported this story from Washington.

The U.S. Agency for International Development led a global competition to identify weaknesses in health worker suits and fund new solutions. The winners are a team of 65 people from Johns Hopkins University, and its affiliate, Jhpiego, an international health nonprofit.

Instead of about 25 steps to take off the old suit, the team wanted to create one with fewer than 10 steps.

The new protective suit is a single piece, including the mask and gloves, making it easier to put on and reducing potential areas of contamination.

To remove, the prototype has a zipper in the back instead of the front. The wearer simply steps on tabs and the suit comes off in one swoop.

Cooling has also been an issue, especially in sweltering African temperatures. The new suit comes with a cooling system that circulates dry air inside the suit that cools user by evaporating their own sweat.

“We have vents in the top and we’ll have vents on the site that free air to enter and flow over the inside surface of the visor and the hot, humid air of your breath will be directed directly out of the suit,” Designer Matthew Petney said.

The suit’s mask also provides better peripheral vision for health care workers, and allows the patient to see the worker’s entire face.

“Previously, only goggles were used, only the eyes were visible, and it was impossible to recognize the doctors you were working with,” Petney said.

Establishing better connections between Ebola patients and health care workers also prompted the team to make the suit yellow.

“The perception in the field is white signifies death and to have a doctor approaching you in a white suit can lead to some problems,” Petney said.

The team is still working to perfect the design, and hope to have the suit in use in four or five months.

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