Detection of influenza virus in air samples of patient rooms

A. Chamseddine, N. Soudani, Z. Kanafani, I. Alameddine, G. Dbaibo, H. Zaraket, M. El-Fadel

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    15 Scopus citations


    Background: Understanding the transmission and dispersal of influenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) via aerosols is essential for the development of preventative measures in hospital environments and healthcare facilities. Methods: During the 2017–2018 influenza season, patients with confirmed influenza or RSV infections were enrolled. Room air samples were collected close (0.30 m) to and distant (2.20 m) from patients' heads. Real-time polymerase chain reaction was used to detect and quantify viral particles in the air samples. The plaque assay was used to determine the infectiousness of the detected viruses. Findings: Fifty-one air samples were collected from the rooms of 29 patients with laboratory-confirmed influenza; 51% of the samples tested positive for influenza A virus (IAV). Among the IAV-positive patients, 65% were emitters (had at least one positive air sample), reflecting a higher risk of nosocomial transmission compared with non-emitters. The majority (61.5%) of the IAV-positive air samples were collected 0.3 m from a patient's head, while the remaining IAV-positive air samples were collected 2.2 m from a patient's head. The positivity rate of IAV in air samples was influenced by distance from the patient's head and day of sample collection after hospital admission. Only three patients with RSV infection were recruited and none of them were emitters. Conclusion: Influenza virus can be aerosolized beyond 1 m in patient rooms, which is the distance considered to be safe by infection control practices. Further investigations are needed to determine the extent of infectivity of aerosolized virus particles.

    Original languageBritish English
    Pages (from-to)33-42
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
    StatePublished - Feb 2021


    • Hospital environment
    • Indoor air quality
    • Influenza virus
    • Real-time PCR (RT-PCR)
    • Respiratory syncytial virus


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