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Respiratory viruses on personal protective equipment and bodies of healthcare workers

  • Linh T. Phan (a1), Dagmar Sweeney (a2), Dayana Maita (a3), Donna C. Moritz (a3), Susan C. Bleasdale (a3), Rachael M. Jones (a1) and for the CDC Prevention Epicenters Program (a1) (a2) (a3)...



To characterize the magnitude of virus contamination on personal protective equipment (PPE), skin, and clothing of healthcare workers (HCWs) who cared for patients having acute viral infections.


Prospective observational study.


Acute-care academic hospital.


A total of 59 HCWs agreed to have their PPE, clothing, and/or skin swabbed for virus measurement.


The PPE worn by HCW participants, including glove, face mask, gown, and personal stethoscope, were swabbed with Copan swabs. After PPE doffing, bodies and clothing of HCWs were sampled with Copan swabs: hand, face, and scrubs. Preamplification and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) methods were used to quantify viral RNA copies in the swab samples.


Overall, 31% of glove samples, 21% of gown samples, and 12% of face mask samples were positive for virus. Among the body and clothing sites, 21% of bare hand samples, 11% of scrub samples, and 7% of face samples were positive for virus. Virus concentrations on PPE were not statistically significantly different than concentrations on skin and clothing under PPE. Virus concentrations on the personal stethoscopes and on the gowns were positively correlated with the number of torso contacts (P < .05). Virus concentrations on face masks were positively correlated with the number of face mask contacts and patient contacts (P < .05).


Healthcare workers are routinely contaminated with respiratory viruses after patient care, indicating the need to ensure that HCWs complete hand hygiene and use other PPE to prevent dissemination of virus to other areas of the hospital. Modifying self-contact behaviors may decrease the presence of virus on HCWs.


Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Rachael M. Jones, Email:


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PREVIOUS PRESENTATION: Aspects of these data were presented at the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Expo on May 21, 2019, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.



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Respiratory viruses on personal protective equipment and bodies of healthcare workers

  • Linh T. Phan (a1), Dagmar Sweeney (a2), Dayana Maita (a3), Donna C. Moritz (a3), Susan C. Bleasdale (a3), Rachael M. Jones (a1) and for the CDC Prevention Epicenters Program (a1) (a2) (a3)...


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