2016 Volume 21 Issue 3 Pages 141-152
To prevent nosocomial infections caused by even either Ebola virus or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), healthcare workers must wear the appropriate protective clothing which can inhibit contact transmission of these pathogens. Therefore, it is necessary to evaluate the performance of protective clothing for penetration resistance against infectious agents. In Japan, some standard methods were established to evaluate the penetration resistance of protective clothing fabric materials under applied pressure. However, these methods only roughly classified the penetration resistance of fabrics, and the detection sensitivity of the methods and the penetration amount with respect to the relationship between blood and the pathogen have not been studied in detail. Moreover, no standard method using bacteria for evaluation is known. Here, to evaluate penetration resistance of protective clothing materials under applied pressure, the detection sensitivity and the leak amount were investigated by using synthetic blood containing bacteriophage phi-X174 or S. aureus. And the volume of leaked synthetic blood and the amount of test microbe penetration were simultaneously quantified. Our results showed that the penetration detection sensitivity achieved using a test microbial culture was higher than that achieved using synthetic blood at invisible leak level pressures. This finding suggested that there is a potential risk of pathogen penetration even when visual leak of contaminated blood through the protective clothing was not observed. Moreover, at visible leak level pressures, it was found that the amount of test microbe penetration varied at least ten-fold among protective clothing materials classified into the same class of penetration resistance. Analysis of the penetration amount revealed a significant correlation between the volume of penetrated synthetic blood and the amount of test microbe penetration, indicating that the leaked volume of synthetic blood could be considered as a latent indicator for infection risk, that the amount of exposure to contaminated blood corresponds to the risk of infection. Our study helped us ascertain, with high sensitivity, the differences among fabric materials with respect to their protective performance, which may facilitate effective selection of protective clothing depending on the risk assessment.