SHEA nixes respirator use for protection from novel and seasonal flu

OSHA Healthcare Connection, June 16, 2009

Epidemiologists who first advised respirator use for the current flu pandemic now say it is not necessary.

After examining the transmission characteristics of novel influenza H1N1—what was commonly called swine flu—the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) recommends that healthcare workers follow droplet precautions, not airborne precautions, reports Infection Control Today, June 12.

This means that healthcare workers who are now treating patients for novel influenza H1N1 can follow the same precautions as for seasonal flu.

Placing patients in negative pressure rooms and having workers wear N95 respirators is not necessary except when performing aerosol inducing procedures, according to SHEA.

SHEA cautions that this recommendation could change with different evidence of transmission dynamics during the flu season.

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