Protection of Healthcare Workers from Novel H1N1 Influenza: Public Health Guidance and the Debate Over Airborne Viral Transmission

2 Hours 44 Minutes
SKU: 10ACOEM-2203
Track: OEM Clinical Practice; Environmental Health and Risk Management

Mark Russi, MD, MPH, FACOEM*, Yale - New Haven Hospital, New Haven, CT

Michael L. Bell, MD, MPH, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Michael J. Hodgson, MD, MPH*, Veterans Health Administration, Washington, DC
Lewis J. Radonovich, MD, Veterans Health Administration, Gainesville, FL

The novel H1N1 pandemic refreshed an ongoing debate regarding whether influenza viruses are transmitted via the airborne route. While most studies have demonstrated larger respiratory droplets to be the principal mode of person-to-person spread, some studies suggest otherwise. How the matter is resolved and what public health guidance will follow may impact substantially both resource allocation and health care worker safety during a pandemic response. In this session we will explore the epidemiology of influenza transmission with specific attention to novel H1N1 virus. The scientific basis of airborne particle transmission and small particle viral viability will also be discussed, as will scientific issues requiring further research. Finally, the process of public health decision-making pertaining to novel H1N1 from the onset of the epidemic will be reviewed, with specific attention to how CDC and WHO guidance unfolded, what lessons can be learned in retrospect, and what can be anticipated in the future. This session is sponsored by the Medical Center Occupational Health Special Interest Section.