Anete Trajman and Dick Menzies
Purpose of review
In the last decade, descriptions of outbreaks of extensively drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis (TB) have increased concern about the nosocomial transmission of TB – a potentially life-threatening occupational respiratory infection. In addition, outbreaks of avian influenza caused by an H5N1 virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome caused by a coronavirus A and the recent pandemic caused by an H1N1 influenza virus have heightened concern about occupational infectious illnesses among workers in healthcare and agriculture.
The last decade has witnessed extensive research into the modes, patterns, determinants and extent of transmission of these illnesses. The most important findings regarding risk, determinants and preventive measures of these occupational infections and recent guidelines are reviewed in this article.
Administrative, personal and engineering measures to control respiratory infection are effective and should be implemented in healthcare facilities. The use of N95 personal respirators by healthcare workers who are caring for pulmonary TB and viral respiratory infections patients is strongly recommended. Vaccination against influenza (including H1N1) is effective and strongly recommended for healthcare workers. Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation is underused at present, despite good evidence of safety and efficacy in elimination of airborne respiratory infectious agents including TB.
avian influenza, H1N1, infection control, influenza, nosocomial transmission, occupational health, severe acute respiratory syndrome, swine origin influenza, tuberculosis