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Spread of influenza caused by aerosol

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 [1], 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.