According to recent research, the influenza virus can spread up to 6 feet from a patient through minute particles while talking or breathing, breaking the old thought that it spreads only by coughing and sneezing.
According to the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, transmission of the flu virus mainly occurs when large-particle respiratory droplets travel over a short distance, and these particles are generally blocked by the facemasks worn by healthcare professionals. When procedures such as bronchoscopy are performed, more sophisticated masks are worn to prevent the contact of virus.
AdvertisementBased on the virus' ability to travel down to the lungs, the severity of the infection varies. Many times, the infection remains confined to the upper respiratory tract. A study revealed that patients with increased nasopharyngeal viral load were the ones in whom coughing and sneezing was connected with the release of virus particles into room air.
The study also found that though the number of large particles emitted by flu patients reduces as the distance from the patient increases, small particles can spread even up to 6 feet from the patient. These small particles are usually emitted via talking and breathing, and not necessarily through coughing or sneezing. Health care personnel are thus exposed to these small particles and can suffer from flu as well.
Therefore, extra care needs to be taken by the health care professionals, especially by those who work in ICUs, respiratory units and infectious diseases units. Necessary preventive and precautionary measures need to be taken by hospitals in not only safe guarding other patients from contacting the flu but also the health care personnel who are taking care of the patients.
Awareness programs, infection control drills and other procedures should be conducted on a regular basis in order to increase the awareness among the professionals to safe guard themselves and their patients. Necessary vaccinations must be given to health care professionals free of cost from the hospital to ensure their safety and health.