Aerosol transmission of infectious agents

I don’t understand why this hasn’t been obvious from the start when it’s true of so many other infectious agents.

Recognition of aerosol transmission of infectious agents – NCBI –  free full-text PMC article – 2019

Although short-range large-droplet transmission is possible for most respiratory infectious agents, deciding on whether the same agent is also airborne has a potentially huge impacton the types (and costs) of infection control interventions that are required.

The concept and definition of aerosols is also discussed, as is the concept of large droplet transmission, and airborne transmission which is meant by most authors to be synonymous with aerosol transmission, although some use the term to mean either large droplet or aerosol transmission.  

However, these terms are often used confusingly when discussing specific infection control interventions for individual pathogens that are accepted to be mostly transmitted by the airborne (aerosol) route (e.g. tuberculosis, measles and chickenpox).

 It is therefore important to clarify such terminology, where a particular intervention, like the type of personal protective equipment (PPE) to be used, is deemed adequate to intervene for this potential mode of transmission, i.e. atan N95 rather than surgical mask level requirement.

With this in mind, this review considers the commonly used term of aerosol transmission in the context of some infectious agents that are well-recognized to be transmissible via the airborne route.

It also discusses other agents, like influenza virus,where the potential for airborne transmission is much more dependent on various host, viral, and environmental factors and where its potential for aerosol transmission may be underestimated.

Factors involved in the aerosol transmission of infection and control of ventilation in healthcare premises – Free full-text PMC article – 2006

The epidemics of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003 highlighted both short- and long-range transmission routes, i.e. between infected patients and healthcare workers, and between distant locations. 

With other infections such as tuberculosis, measles and chickenpox, the concept of aerosol transmission is so well accepted that isolation of such patients is the norm.

With current concerns about a possible approaching influenza pandemic, the control of transmission via infectious air has become more important. 

Therefore, the aim of this review is to describe the factors involved in: 

  1. the generation of an infectious aerosol, 
  2. the transmission of infectious droplets or droplet nuclei from this aerosol, and 
  3. the potential for inhalation of such droplets or droplet nuclei by a susceptible host. 

On this basis, recommendations are made to improve the control of aerosol-transmitted infections in hospitals as well as in the design and construction of future isolation facilities.

You can follow the links to read the whole articles for more details.

1 thought on “Aerosol transmission of infectious agents

  1. Kathy C

    They had to keep this stuff quiet, this info is bad for business. Right now they are skimping on cleaning crews, imagine if they had to upgrade air handlers, and HVAC systems.

    Liked by 1 person


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