JOHNS HOPKINS TEAM WINS U.S. AWARD FOR IMPROVED SUIT TO FIGHT EBOLA

PPE for ebola

 

Personal protective equipment and disinfection procedures offer critical protection.

For health care workers who care for Ebola patients in West Africa, one of the biggest logistical challenges was the “moon suits” they should wear to protect against infection with the deadly virus . The costumes are hot. The removal is a process in several meticulous steps that can not leave room for error.

Now a protective suit designed by a Johns Hopkins team was selected as one of the winners of a global competition for solutions to improve the protection and comfort of front-line workers struggling against Ebola. The competition was launched in early October by the US Agency for International Development, the main coordinating body of the US government response Ebola.

The suit is easier to take off, and has a small battery source to cool the user by blowing air into the hood says Youseph Yazdi, Executive Director of the Center of Johns Hopkins University for Bioengineering Innovation and Design, which worked with JHPIEGO, an international non-profit health and academic affiliate and Clinvue an innovation society health care and design consulting in Baltimore. If the major manufacturers signed on, Yazdi and US officials hope a version of the new combination of protection might be on the ground in a few months.

The aim of the competition was to find solutions that could enter the field as quickly as possible, without costing much money. So the team used the same lightweight material that large manufacturers currently use. But redesigned so that the hood and the rest of the combination are attached. They repositioned a zipper in the front to the back of the suit. They reconfigured the zipper with pull tabs that allow the user to easily decompress, so the suit essentially peels away.

Therefore, “when you want to remove clothing, zipper opens for the raising process from 20 steps going up to five or six minutes and goes and minutes down to seconds,” he said.

“You do not need a friend to help you. You do not have to touch the hood or enter around your face. It’s quick and much safer,” said Yazdi.

ebola fighting ppe

 

The prototype also uses a large clear visor in the hood, making it easier for frontline workers to see.

Front-line workers need to be protected against bodily fluids contagious Ebola patients during treatment and while removing a dirty suit. The material of the suit prevents fluid from entering, but it also means the heat of the human body has nowhere to escape. Clinics and centers in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea do not have air conditioning. Working in extreme heat and humidity of the region, the health staff often describe remove their boots and pouring the accumulated sweat.

To keep workers cool, the prototype uses a battery belt worn about the size of a fanny pack runner. It blows dry, filtered air into the hood. It need not be the fresh air, said Yazdi (which would have cost more and was more complicated). But just have dry air allows perspiration to evaporate from the skin, which allows cooling. The battery can be charged using a cell phone charger.

The team simulated the heat and humidity in a room that was about 98 degrees and 85 percent humidity. Wearing a suit regular protection, Yazdi had the impression that he was going to collapse in minutes. Thanks to fresh air technology, it was comfortable enough, he said.

Field testing is the next phase, which will be done by JHPIEGO, while the team and US officials talk to manufacturers. Wendy Taylor, who oversees the global competition Ebola USAID, said some of the design innovations in Hopkins prototype, such as location and reconfiguration of the zipper and adding zippers, should not be very hard to do.

“Manufacturers are actively involved in the massive response in the context of this particular outbreak,” she said. “We have real interest … We are looking at how we can speed things easy.”

The protective clothing Hopkins was among three winning innovations will share approximately $ 1.7 million, US officials said. How the funds will be divided remains to be developed. The winners, announced Friday, will undergo extensive testing in preparation for the production and use in the field. The two other innovations are antiseptic gel applied to the skin that provides up to six hours of protection against pathogens by Aquarius GEP and innovative BioDefense; and a long duration of spray which kills microbes and regrowth to prevent surface contamination, SPR Advanced Technologies.

Source: the Washington post

By Lena H. Sun

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