CDC Boosting Ebola Equipment Stockpile

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is boosting its supply of protective gear designed to shield health workers treating patients with the Ebola virus.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is boosting its supply of protective gear designed to shield health workers treating patients with the Ebola virus.

The CDC said it has ordered $2.7 million worth of Ebola-specific personal protective equipment (PPE) for its Strategic National Stockpile. The stockpile of supplies will be used to help US hospitals caring for Ebola patients.

The CDC last month issued safety guidelines for healthcare workers treating Ebola patients. Health workers are instructed to wear impermeable gowns, coveralls, aprons, boot covers, respirators, and other supplies.

Once the CDC receives those products, they will be assembled into 50 kits for rapid deployment to affected hospitals, according to the CDC. However, the agency also noted that its guidelines have caused a spike in sales for many of these products, as hospitals rushed to have adequate equipment available. The CDC said availability of the products varies by region, but a spokesman said the agency is working to ensure their orders don’t inhibit hospitals from getting the supplies.

“We are making certain to not disrupt the orders submitted by states and hospitals, but we are building our stocks so that we can assist when needed,” said Greg Burel, who directs the stockpile for the CDC. “Some of these products are not normally used by hospitals for regular patient care.”

The CDC’s Ebola guidance also includes substitute equipment that can be used if a hospital is unable to procure the specified equipment. Hospitals hoping to access the CDC’s stockpile should coordinate the request through their state’s public health department, the CDC said.

Only 4 people have been diagnosed with Ebola on US soil. Three of the 4 cases involved healthcare workers who had treated someone with Ebola.

However, physicians have expressed concerns about the level of preparedness of US public health agencies.

The nongovernmental agency Direct Relief earlier reported that a survey of US safety-net facilities found most had little or no surplus of protective gear they would need if presented with a case of Ebola.

Image shows CDC worker assembling Ebola PPE kit for national stockpile. / Courtesy photo