Health and Science

Texas health workers find a new use for Tabasco


Edmund McIlhenny, the creator of Tabasco-brand Original Red Sauce, probably didn't expect his product to aid in the treatment of a deadly virus.

A bottle of Tabasco sauce is shown during an event in New Orleans.
Getty Images for Tabasco

But, that is exactly what health workers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center are doing.

Tuesday, Gov. Rick Perry announced the creation of two containment facilities in Texas, one of them at UT Southwestern, to treat individuals who have contracted the deadly virus. UT Southwestern has already begun a program that simulates how the workers will treat patients with the virus.

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Elizabeth Thomas, a nurse at the hospital, told ABC news about the process. Random "patients" are sprayed with Tabasco, which represents the Ebola virus-laden fluids. Why Tabasco? The sauce is made with the seeds of Capsicum frutescens peppers from either Mexico or Central America. These peppers will cause a tingly-sensation whenever contact with skin occurs.

After the patient is treated, the workers touch their face and eyes to instantly see if they did a proper job protecting themselves.

"But we didn't have the burning sensation," Thomas said in an interview with ABC News. "So that's how we knew we were doing the right thing."

It's good to know that there is yet another use for Tabasco sauce.