Researchers find that viruses may permeate wet
Section: National News
Latex gloves, routinely worn by surgeons and other health care
workers to guard against infection, may allow dangerous viruses to
permeate when wet, research has found.
Such particles as HIV or hepatitis B viruses can penetrate
within 15 minutes a wet latex glove that has no holes, said study
co-author Kevin Kelly, M.D., an associate professor of pediatrics
and medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Wauwatosa.
In the study, "The Relationship Between Latex, Allergies,
Hydration and Compromised Barriers in Surgical Gloves," researchers
conducted electrical-conductivity tests on 12 gloves of six
different brand names. They found that the "boggy," expanding and
thickening feelings commonly felt by wearers are caused by moisture
permeating the latex.
"If you have an occlusive glove on your hand, you sweat," Kelly
said. "Over time, different gloves that hydrate will actually carry
Kelly said additional studies are under way to confirm the
findings and their significance.
Even though the likelihood of becoming infected through a wet
latex glove is infinitesimal, he suggested that surgeons who wear
gloves for long periods of time consider double-gloving.
"We don't know the fact that a viral-sized particle can go
through a glove means that a person who is wearing that glove is
actually at risk of getting infected," he said.
Kelly said technology soon will let users check the protection
they are receiving from gloves while they are wearing them.
"I foresee a day that in every operating room every glove is
electronically monitored while you're doing work," he said. "You
will reach a point where the hydration status of the glove will
reach a level where we know that viral penetration reaches the
point of higher risk."
Kelly discussed his findings March 15 at the annual meeting of
the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in New
Orleans. A study abstract (abstract no. 575) was in a supplement
included with the January issue of the Journal of Allergy and
Copyright 1996 by American Hospital Publishing Inc.
Green, Jeffrey, Researchers find that viruses may permeate wet
latex gloves.., Vol. 32, AHA News, 03-25-1996, pp 4.
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