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.
Based 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.