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Preventing H1N1 spread to health care workers: Dilemma, debate and confusion
Date:11/19/2009

rable since we cannot predict which influenza-infected person is a superspreader."

Mermel notes the paramount importance of source control (i.e., influenza-infected patients wearing surgical masks, as tolerated) to minimize risk of transmission to HCWs. Mermel also refers to the risk of HCW-to-HCW influenza transmission if influenza-infected HCWs work while ill.

As a physician, Mermel believes that, "Science will guide us as we care for patients infected with H1N1 2009 but a lack of attention to our understanding of the transmission of human influenza has left us debating which procedures create influenza superspreading events, what is appropriate personal protective equipment, use of suboptimum engineered respirators that need fit testing and are poorly tolerated for prolonged use, and limited industrial capacity to meet our needs. For now, infection-control experts at each institution must weigh the variables noted to establish not only what is best, but what is realistic in reducing risk to their staff, their visitors, and their patients."

Mermel is a past president of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.


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Contact: Nancy Cawley Jean
njean@lifespan.org
Lifespan
Source:Eurekalert  

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