Spread of influenza caused by aerosol

By: November 30th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

Forget the traditional belief that you can only catch influenza by being coughed on by someone or touching an infected surface. A new study in Hong Kong found that influenza was spread through aerosol transmission.

On April 4, 2008, seven patients in Chinese University of Hong Kong’s hospital had a fever and respiratory symptoms, which led to positive tests of influenza A, reported UPI.com. Nelson Lee, MD, of the Chinese University of Hong Kong observed the hospital’s outbreak and found it was caused by the transmission of aerosol at the facility. The study was published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The study found the outbreak to be caused by a patient admitted on March 27 who went through a non-invasive ventilation on March 31. After the procedure, he was moved to the intensive care unit which happened to be next to an air purifier that caused an unopposed air current throughout the ICU, according to UPI.com.

Lee saw that aerosol was to blame.

“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,” he said.

After the study, Lee proposed that a new type of respirator be used when procedures involve aerosol.


This is an interesting article, but I am not seeing how this disproves influenza transmission via coughing and/or contaminated surfaces. Did I miss something?

By Erica Jordan on December 1st, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Hello! Thanks for letting me know..a bit of a misunderstanding. I have fixed it. It didn’t disprove contact and droplet transmission..but only the aerosol transmission is verifiable.

By Antony Shannon on December 1st, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Hello Erica, I like M Ward found the wording, and is still, a little misleading – “new study in Hong Kong found that influenza was spread through aerosol transmission”. Surely all this item does is confirm that as well as contact & droplet that aerosol is also a vector for spread of influenza. Cetainly here in Dunedin, NZ during the pandemic last year utilized N95 masks as aerosolized therapies were required for those patient with influenza.
Thanks for all the work you do its great

By Julet Brown on December 2nd, 2010 at 9:58 am

Yes, initially, I was perplexed because the article seemed as if it was saying Aerosl transmission only; and was leaving out the fact that Droplect as well as Contact is transmissible. N95 respirator during the aerosol generating pocedures—definitely!!


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