Issue: November 2012
October 23, 2012
1 min read

New procedures needed to reduce flu viral air load exposure in HCWs

Issue: November 2012
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SAN DIEGO — Current non-aerosol–generating procedures in place at one tertiary care hospital meant to limit exposure of localized droplet transmission of influenza from patients to health care workers may need to be updated, according to a presenter here.

Data from the cross-sectional study suggest that health care workers (HCWs) may be exposed to infectious dosages of influenza in small particle aerosols as far as 6 feet from patients. 

The team of researchers from Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., obtained quantitative impaction air samples within 1 foot, 3 feet and 6 feet of 61 influenza-positive patients during routine care during the 2010-2011 influenza season.

Forty-three percent of patients released influenza into room air —19% emitted up to 32-times more virus when compared with other “super-emitters.”

HCWs were mainly exposed to influenza particles less than 4.7 mcm in diameter and concentrations decreased as distance from the patients decreased (P<.05). Influenza shedding was associated with increased viral loads in nasopharyngeal samples (P<.05). Shedding plus cough and sneeze during air sampling increased viral air load.

More influenza was emitted in patients who reported severe illness and major interference with daily life (P<.05). Age, ART and vaccination status were not associated with influenza emission.

For more information:

Bischoff W. #96. Presented at: ID Week; Oct. 17-21, 2012; San Diego.

Disclosure: Bischoff reports no relevant financial disclosures.