September 22, 2022

Study Evaluates PPE Use Among Healthcare Workers Exposed to Monkeypox

A study of Colorado healthcare workers found low adherence to CDC recommendations for personal protective equipment when caring for patients with suspected or confirmed monkeypox, according to a publication in the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. From May 1 through July 31, researchers with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment evaluated exposures among 313 healthcare workers caring for patients who were later diagnosed to have monkeypox infections. Only 23 percent of the healthcare workers wore all recommended PPE, which includes respirators, gloves, gowns, and eye protection. In addition, among the 87 workers whose exposures were determined to be of intermediate or high risk, fewer than half opted to receive a vaccine for monkeypox.

Despite the low adherence to CDC’s recommendations, none of the exposed healthcare workers contracted monkeypox during the 21 days researchers monitored them. Six workers developed symptoms, but their PCR test results were negative. A seventh worker’s symptoms were linked to a reaction to a medication. According to the report, the absence of transmission in these cases is consistent with previous outbreaks in the United States and with reports of cases imported from other countries, which have shown that occupationally acquired monkeypox is unlikely when infection prevention and control recommendations are followed. Still, the lack of adherence to PPE recommendations in this study suggests that better training is needed for frontline healthcare workers, the researchers conclude.

According to CDC data, there have been approximately 24,300 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the current U.S. outbreak, with one death. The agency website has information about monkeypox for healthcare professionals.

The MMWR report is available from the CDC website.