Texas Health Workers Are Using A Very ‘Hot’ Ingredient To Train For Ebola

The Ebola virus is a deadly threat to the world that needs to be handled very carefully. Health workers have to be trained about the perils of working with patients suspected of having contracted the lethal Ebola virus that often proves fatal. Interestingly, the health workers in Texas have been using a simple alternative to stimulate contamination.

As Texas health workers prepare two new bio-containment units to help treat any future Ebola patients the state might have, they’re using one piece of training equipment from a neighboring state that may surprise you. These workers have been using Tabasco sauce to stimulate contamination. Doctors and nurses have been practicing dressing and undressing in their protective gear without running the risk of accidentally exposing them to the Ebola virus using Tabasco sauce as an indicator of contamination, reported ABC News.

The risk of contamination is quite high and despite all the protective gear, as the Ebola virus may make contact with the health workers’ skin during the dressing-up and dressing down sessions. How should the health worker be made aware immediately if he or she has been contaminated?

At the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, the staff has been practicing treating fake patients who have been sprayed at random with the peppery sauce as a stand-in for Ebola virus-laden fluids. The Tabasco sauce gives off a typical tingling sensation when it comes in contact with the skin that helps the health worker realize he or she hasn’t correctly followed the procedure, reported the Daily Mail.

Though the Tabasco sauce doesn’t mimic the physical sensation given off by any fluids infected with Ebola, it acts as an immediate feedback agent, explained Dr. Bruce Meyer, an Executive Vice President at the hospital.

Dr. Bruce attributed the hospital’s Director of Infection Prevention, Doramarie Arocha for the simple, but quite effective idea to ensure the workers are utmost careful while gearing up.

The Tabasco sauce is made from red peppers called Capsicum frutescens, which are made spicy by the chemical capsaicin. When skin comes in contact with the chemical, the brain’s pain and temperature receptors get simultaneously activated, causing that signature tingly, hot feeling. Incidentally, the hot pepper chemical has been used in several other medical settings, including dermatology and neurology for pain and itch relief. But this might be the first incident where it is used as an indicator of contamination or poor execution of safety protocol.

Training health workers to correctly handle patients suspected of contracting Ebola virus can guarantee the safety of these employees and ensure that the spread of the virus is restricted.

[Image Credit | Alex Brandon / AP]