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Detection of influenza virus in air samples of patient rooms

Credit: Mohamed Hassan / Pixabay

Background
Understanding the transmission and dispersal of iinfluenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) via aerosolsvia aerosols is essential for the development of preventative measures in hospital environments and healthcare facilities.

Methods
During the 2017-2018 influenza season, patients with confirmed influenza or RSV infections were enrolled. Room air samples were collected close to (0.30 m) and far (2.20 m) from the patient’s head. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to detect and quantify viral particles in the air samples. Plaque assay was used to determine the infectiousness of the detected viruses.

Findings
Fifty-one air samples were collected from the rooms of 29 patients with laboratory-confirmed influenza; 51% of the samples tested positive for influenza A virus (IAV). Among IAV-positive patients, 65% were emitters (have at least one positive air sample) reflecting a higher risk of nosocomial transmission compared to non-emitters. The majority (61.5%) of the IAV-positive air samples were collected at 0.3 m distance from the patients’ head, while the remaining were collected at 2.2 m. The positivity rate of IAV in air samplers was influenced by the distance from the patient’s head and the day of collection post-hospital admission. Only three patients with RSV infection were recruited and none were emitters.

Conclusion
This study demonstrates that influenza can be aerosolized beyond one meter in patient rooms, a distance considered to be safe by infection control practices. Further investigations are needed to determine the extent of infectivity of the aerosolized virus particles.

Source: Journal of Hospital Infection

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