Break the Contamination Chain – Don’t let your business become a vehicle for the H1N1 virus

With swine flu rapidly sweeping across the globe, it is estimated that a third of the world’s popula-tion will be affected by the H1N1 virus. Like seasonal flu, it is believed a second wave of the virus will occur as the virus thrives in wintery conditions . The spread of swine flu can be contained if businesses are prepared for the second wave of the virus by providing the correct protective cloth-ing and equipment for employees that will help to break the contamination chain.

So far, people’s experiences of swine flu have been similar to seasonal flu with the majority only experiencing mild symptoms and only a handful of serious cases. However, officials are warning that the virus could come back stronger with the start of the 2009/10 seasonal flu this autumn. As experienced already, the swine flu virus can affect large numbers of people quickly. If this contin-ues it has the potential to cripple the workforce throughout Europe and the rest of the world putting greater strain on an already troubled economy. If measures are put in place to break the contami-nation chain at this stage, it can help minimise the disruption to businesses in the long term.

Guidance from authorities across the globe is the same; follow good hygiene rules by washing your hands with soap regularly, protecting your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, disposing of used tissues promptly and carefully and cleaning hard surfaces, such as door handles, fre-quently².

In some occupations, it may be necessary to wear protective clothing to help protect against the spread of the swine flu virus. Speaking about protective clothing, Ian Samson, DuPont Personal Protection Territory Manager UK & Ireland said: “People who work in environments that involve close contact with people, such as the health or emergency services, or environments that deal with the handling of transported goods, including staff working at airports, ferry ports and major passenger terminals, have a heightened risk of being exposed to the H1N1 virus because of the nature of their job”.

In these highly exposed environments, masks and coveralls have a complementary role to play in limiting the spread of the virus². Masks are helpful for infected people to avoid spreading infected droplets to health care personnel, The coverall, used in conjunction with other personal protective equipment such as gloves and disposable respirators, protect professionals from infected droplets and limit the risk of professionals transporting the droplets and the virus to another person.

To ensure effective protection, a protective garment should:
• be made of a fabric which is a barrier to the virus
• designed to avoid cross contamination
• have closure and seams which are tight during exposures and after exposure
• be disposed of in a bio-safe way.

Range of DuPont™ Tyvek® suits, that includes Tyvek® Classic and Tyvek® Classic Plus, provides adequate protection against contamination. From our product portfolio, Tyvek® Classic Plus (Type 4,5,6) provides a more adequate barrier by the combination of the fabric, the tight seams and the tight closure of the zipper flap. Tyvek® Classic (Type 5,6) may provide an adequate barrier, how-ever the seams and the zipper coverage are less particle tight than those of Tyvek® Classic Plus garments. Both garments are made of the same Tyvek® material which has shown an adequate barrier against infected particles (EN 14126). As a result of its manufacturing process, Tyvek® has an inherent barrier that delivers excellent protection and can help against the spread of the swine flu virus.

Tyvek® suits may be used for example in the following industries:

In healthcare facilities, the CDC and WHO recommend clean or sterile isolation gowns for health-care providers, visitors and non-healthcare staff. The material that the gown is manufactured from, and whether or not it should be sterile, depends on the task and the anticipated exposure. Atten-tion of hand hygiene is also highly recommended.

In order to limit the risk of carrying the virus from farm to farm, one option for workers working in veterinary surveillance of infected animals is to use clean disposable DuPont™ Tyvek® coveralls in conjunction with separate disposable footwear that has reinforced soles.

When selecting protective clothing for cleaning and disinfection of buildings and equipment, taped seam DuPont™ Tyvek ® garments, along with appropriate hand, face and foot protection, may be considered for activities involving high liquid volumes or pressures.

For laboratory activities involving swine flu specimens, laboratory coats, gloves and eye protection is recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Protective clothing should be removed before leaving the laboratory³.