Aerosol Transmission of Influenza A Virus: A Review of New Studies

J R Soc Interface. 2009 Dec 6;6 Suppl 6(Suppl 6):S783-90. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2009.0302.focus. Epub 2009 Sep 22.

Abstract

Over the past few years, prompted by pandemic preparedness initiatives, the debate over the modes of transmission of influenza has been rekindled and several reviews have appeared. Arguments supporting an important role for aerosol transmission that were reviewed included prolonged survival of the virus in aerosol suspensions, demonstration of the low infectious dose required for aerosol transmission in human volunteers, and clinical and epidemiological observations were disentanglements of large droplets and aerosol transmission was possible. Since these reviews were published, several new studies have been done and generated new data. These include direct demonstration of the presence of influenza viruses in aerosolized droplets from the tidal breathing of infected persons and in the air of an emergency department; the establishment of the guinea pig model for influenza transmission, where it was shown that aerosol transmission is important and probably modulated by temperature and humidity; the demonstration of some genetic determinants of airborne transmission of influenza viruses as assessed using the ferret model; and mathematical modelling studies that strongly support the aerosol route. These recent results and their implication for infection control of influenza are discussed in this review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Air Microbiology
  • Animals
  • Birds
  • Communicable Diseases / transmission*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Ferrets
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Humans
  • Humidity
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype
  • Influenza A Virus, H5N1 Subtype
  • Influenza in Birds / prevention & control
  • Influenza in Birds / transmission*
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control
  • Influenza, Human / transmission*
  • Respiratory Protective Devices
  • Temperature
  • Ultraviolet Rays

Substances

  • Aerosols