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Aerosol Science: Technology and Applications by Ian Colbeck, Mihalis Lazaridis

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Chapter 11

Bioaerosols and Hospital Infections

Ka man Lai1, Zaheer Ahmad Nasir2 and Jonathon Taylor2

1Department of Biology, Hong Kong Baptist University, China

2Healthy Infrastructure Research Centre, Department of Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering, University College London, UK

11.1 The Importance of Bioaerosols and Infections

Increasing threats from new and emerging diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), flu pandemics, rising numbers of hospital-acquired infections and drug-resistant pathogens like extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) have again raised the concern that air plays a key role in disease transmission. World Health Organization (WHO) experts have predicted that ‘… at a minimum, between 2 and 7.4 million people might die in the next pandemic’. (WHO, 2005). The international impact of such diseases was clearly shown in the SARS outbreak in 2002 and 2003. Within a few weeks, SARS had spread from Hong Kong to 26 countries and caused over 8000 cases and 700 deaths worldwide (WHO, 2004). In one study, it was reported that 40 health workers had contracted SARS over a 6-week period in a community hospital; the infection incidence was highest in healthcare assistants (8%), followed by physicians (5%) and nurses (4%) (Ho, Sung and Chan-Yeung, 2003). Hospital environments are particularly vulnerable to infections because people carrying infectious agents and those most at risk of infection come together there. Given the prodigious advances ...

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