Hong Kong hospital reports possible airborne influenza transmission

November 22, 2010, Infectious Diseases Society of America

Direct contact and droplets are the primary ways influenza spreads. Under certain conditions, however, aerosol transmission is possible. In a study published in the current issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, available online, the authors examined such an outbreak in their own hospital in Hong Kong.

On April 4, 2008, seven inpatients in the hospital's general medical ward developed fever and . Ultimately, nine inpatients exhibited influenza-like symptoms and tested positive for A. The cause of the outbreak was believed to be an influenza patient who was admitted on March 27. He received a form of non-invasive ventilation on March 31, and was then moved to the after 16 hours. During that time, he was located right beside the outflow jet of an air purifier, which created an unopposed air current across the ward.

"We showed that infectious aerosols generated by a respiratory device applied to an influenza patient might have been blown across the hospital ward by an imbalanced indoor airflow, causing a major nosocomial outbreak," said study author Nelson Lee, MD, of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. "The spatial distribution of affected patients was highly consistent with an aerosol mode of transmission, as opposed to that expected from droplet transmission.

"Suitable personal protective equipment, including the use of N95 respirators, will need to be considered when aerosol-generating procedures are performed on influenza patients," Dr. Lee added. "Avoiding such procedures in open wards and improving ventilation design in health care facilities may also help to reduce the risk of nosocomial transmission of influenza."

More information: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/656743

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Flu infection study increases understanding of natural immunity

January 23, 2018
People with higher levels of antibodies against the stem portion of the influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) protein have less viral shedding when they get the flu, but do not have fewer or less severe signs of illness, according ...

Onions could hold key to fighting antibiotic resistance

January 22, 2018
A type of onion could help the fight against antibiotic resistance in cases of tuberculosis, a UCL and Birkbeck-led study suggests.

New long-acting approach for malaria therapy developed

January 22, 2018
A new study, published in Nature Communications, conducted by the University of Liverpool and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine highlights a new 'long acting' medicine for the prevention of malaria.

Virus shown to be likely cause of mystery polio-like illness

January 22, 2018
A major review by UNSW researchers has identified strong evidence that a virus called Enterovirus D68 is the cause of a mystery polio-like illness that has paralysed children in the US, Canada and Europe.

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.