A pilot study of core body temperatures in healthcare workers wearing personal protective equipment in a high-level isolation unit

Jocelyn J. Herstein, Abdoulaziz A. Abdoulaye, Katelyn C. Jelden, Aurora B. Le, Elizabeth L. Beam, Shawn G. Gibbs, Angela L. Hewlett, Angela Vasa, Kathleen C. Boulter, Terry L. Stentz, Kelli R. Kopocis-Herstein, Wael ElRayes, Chris Wichman, John J. Lowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Personal protective equipment used by healthcare workers to mitigate disease transmission risks while caring for patients with high-consequence infectious diseases can impair normal body cooling mechanisms and exacerbate physiological strain. Symptoms of heat strain (e.g., cognitive impairment, confusion, muscle cramping) are especially harmful in the high-risk environment of high-consequence infectious disease care. In this pilot study, the core body temperatures of healthcare workers were assessed using an ingestible, wireless-transmission thermometer while performing patient care tasks common to a high-level isolation unit setting in powered air purifying respirator (PAPR)-level. The objective was to determine the potential for occupational health hazard due to heat stress in an environmentally controlled unit. Maximum core temperatures of the six participants ranged from 37.4 °C (99.3 °F) to 39.9 °C (103.8 (Formula presented.) during the 4-hr shift; core temperatures of half (n = 3) of the participants exceeded 38.5 °C (101.3 °F), the upper core temperature limit. Future investigations are needed to identify other heat stress risks both in and outside of controlled units. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic offers unique opportunities for field-based research on risks of heat stress related to personal protective equipment in healthcare workers that can lead to both short- and long-term innovations in this field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)430-435
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of occupational and environmental hygiene
Volume18
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Biocontainment
  • core body temperature
  • Ebola
  • heat stress
  • protective clothing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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