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Infection Precautions

  1. Jun 6, 2005 #1


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    I'm currently undergoing training to become an EMT-B and as we were going over basic equipment it occured to me that EMS uses an N95 mask for TB patients. Well I will assume bluntly that most TB's are also HIV patients.

    Those N95 masks are for non-oily particles of at least 300 nm in size, and here is where my question is. I dug up some info on some deadlier viruses from the net and their sizes:

    Bacteriophage MS-2 20nm
    Hepatitis 24nm - 30nm
    Adenovirus 70nm
    HIV (AIDS) 80nm
    Cytomegalovirus 100nm
    Orthomyxovirus 120nm
    Coronavirus (SARS) 80nm - 160nm

    It appears to me that the N95 or N99 or N100 or P99 - P100 masks wont protect anybody from any aforementioned viruses for respiratory contraptions. Furthermore, wearing a full face mask would probably be a wise choice over just goggles that have 2-5 mm gaps in between your eyes and nosal areas. And finally a medical set of hard gloves on top latex or nonlatex non sterile gloves, and perhaps some kind of an apron and a hair net.

    The information I've stumbled upon also suggests that the surgical masks arent quiet as effective as N95, meaning that most surgeons are not very safe from any aforementioned viruses. So my question is - what kind of a respirator should I use for TB/HIV/Hepatitis patients? Or what kind do they use at BSL-4?
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 6, 2005 #2
    hiv realates to tb too, mostly the same dagerous level, and being beaten by hiv's is mot painful becos it bit in a dogg way.
    all can be cured or prevented exept hiv's. iam tryin to dig deeper in hiv for more inforemation and bring them all to light. i swear!
  4. Jun 6, 2005 #3


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    Also, how effective is Zidovudine in prevention of AIDS in a puncture kind of contraptions? I'd like to be certain that there are solutions to all problems I might encounter before I dive into the field, so any suggestions or info is welcome
  5. Jun 6, 2005 #4
    zidovudine (azt) will most likely kill you if you take it. therefore, if you merely suspect an infection, this would not be a good choice.

    you would probably be better off with interferon and protease inhibitors. note that these are also very nasty, and will make you sick.

    there is obviously no easy answer to getting rid of a virus, especially something like hiv. no single antiviral can be guaranteed to work, and in reality very few work at all.

    your best bet is to continue looking for ways to prevent the particle from entering your body, and keep your immune system healthy (good rest, food, etc.)

    keep in mind that doctors are exposed to these things all the time, yet most don't get sick.
  6. Jun 6, 2005 #5


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    Granted the virus particles themselves may be very small, however, are they shed from infected patients as single virus particles or do they come along with bodily fluids? In other words, if an infected patient sneezes and expells numerous droplets of saliva, mucus, etc, those droplets may indeed contain active virus but are they also so large as to not pass through the 300 nm cutoff for the mask? It's kind of like stopping malaria by keeping the mosquito from biting you.
  7. Jun 6, 2005 #6


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    Most of those viruses you listed are not spread by airborne transmission, while TB is. As DocToxyn mentioned, the bigger risk would be splatters of bodily fluids coming into contact with your own body, so the mask puts a layer of material between you and that splatter. A full face shield would be a good idea for preventing HIV if you're dealing with a patient with a high viral load, because while there's a low chance of contracting the disease from just skin contact (assuming you quickly wash any exposed skin and use a topical disinfectant), you don't want any splatters hitting any broken skin or getting into mucous membranes.
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