I was watching Forrest Gump, and during the scene where Forrest goes to tell Lt. Dan about being awarded the Medal of Honor, I noticed that a soldier in the background was surrounded by a plastic bubble in the hospital as seen below:

Plastic bubble

Why was the soldier surrounded by this plastic shield? Was this something actually done during the Vietnam War or just a movie prop?

1 Answer 1


The plastic bubble is an isolation chamber: it prevents the spread of airborne disease and contaminants. Isolation prevents the spread of contaminants both from the patient to the outside, and from the outside to the patient inside.

A machine attached by a tube filters the air entering and leaving the chamber.

Presumably, the soldier inside has contracted a contagious disease in the jungle and is being quarantined to avoid spreading it to others.

Hospital isolation chamber

  • 49
    More likely to be burns. Makeshift tents like those were erected around burn victims to try and prevent infection.
    – Tim
    Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 21:04
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    @Tim: if that's true, you should write a separate answer (with sources/images, if possible) Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 0:25
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    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft: Tim's suggestion (which I agree with) doesn't change the fact that this is a makeshift isolation chamber. The distinction between this answer and Tim's suggested answer (why the tent is used) is not obvious from the movie, and therefore mostly opinion based. This answer gets the facts straight, and makes a fair assumption. Tim added another possible assumption, but did not counter any of the facts.
    – Flater
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 8:06
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    @Rahul: You provide no evidence as to why this specific soldier is in an isolation chamber because of Agent Orange. Which leads us back to my initial statement, the reason why this particular soldier was in isolation is not clear and opinion-based. The usage of flamethrowers and napalm during the Vietnam war makes burns an equally likely possibility, as does general infectiousness (due to soldiers being in a climate they're not used to).
    – Flater
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 9:46
  • @Flater: I have added a part in the end from First Blood. Some were exposed to it some were not. To avoid contamination to other soldiers they were kept in isolation. I hope this answers your question. Thanks for pointing out again. I will now add it to answer.
    – Rahul
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 9:48

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