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Med J Aust. 2006 Nov 20;185(10 Suppl):S54-7.

Infection control and pandemic influenza.

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Infectious Disease Unit and Microbiology Department, Canberra Hospital, Canberra, ACT, Australia.


If an influenza pandemic occurs, the spread of the virus should be reduced for as long as possible while an effective vaccine is produced. Influenza spreads mainly by large respiratory droplets (> 5 microm) depositing onto the mucosal surfaces of the eye, mouth or respiratory tract. Hands are another major means for spread, and are frequently contaminated by droplets. The most effective way to reduce the spread of the virus is with good infection control practices and social distancing. Infection control practices include the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), hand hygiene, and respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette. Infected people should be isolated and spatial separation observed in common areas where infected people may be present. Any practices that create aerosols (eg, nebulisation) should be avoided, unless performed with appropriate precautions, especially with all people in the room wearing appropriate PPE. Now is the time to re-examine all our current practices so that we are better prepared, well practised and have good infection control practices in place for all transmissible respiratory infections.

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