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Emerg Infect Dis. 2009 Sep;15(9):1438-44. doi: 10.3201/eid1509.081475.

Nurses' contacts and potential for infectious disease transmission.

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  • 1Robert Koch Institute, Department for Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Berlin, Germany. bernardh@rki.de


Nurses' contacts with potentially infectious persons probably place them at higher risk than the general population for infectious diseases. During an influenza pandemic, illness among nurses might result in staff shortage. We aimed to show the value of individual data from the healthcare sector for mathematical modeling of infectious disease transmission. Using a paper diary approach, we compared nurses' daily contacts (2-way conversation with >2 words or skin-to-skin contact) with those of matched controls from a representative population survey. Nurses (n = 129) reported a median of 40 contacts (85% work related), and controls (n = 129) reported 12 contacts (33% work related). For nurses, 51% of work-related contacts were with patients (74% involving skin-to-skin contact, and 63% lasted < or =15 minutes); 40% were with staff members (29% and 36%, respectively). Our data, used with simulation models, can help predict staff availability and provide information for pandemic preparedness planning.

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