International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene

Home Hygiene & Health

The Leading Source of Scientific, Professional & Consumer Information
International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene

Home Hygiene & Health

The Leading Source of Scientific, Professional & Consumer Information

Transmission of avian influenza viruses to and between humans.

Recent research raises questions about the routes of transmission of avian viruses to and between humans. Data indicate possible differences in transmission patterns between human and avian influenza viruses, and implications for prevention in health care, household, and community settings. Transmission of human virus occurs by inhalation of infectious droplets or airborne droplet nuclei and, perhaps, by indirect (fomite) contact followed by self-inoculation of the upper respiratory tract or conjunctival mucosa. The relative importance of these routes is debated, and there is evidence to support each of them. It is likely that each route contributes to transmission under appropriate circumstances and that the manifestations of illness, respiratory tract viral loads, and, perhaps, the type of infecting influenza virus influence the likelihood of transmission by a particular route. The multiple potential routes for the spread of avian influenza viruses, particularly H5N1, indicate that, in addition to protection for the respiratory tract and eyes, proper hand hygiene may be especially important in preventing infection. In households in which illness has occurred, specific protective measures would be advisable for known household contacts. In affected countries, public education regarding simple precautionary measures for food preparation, poultry handling, and avoidance of contaminated water are essential until effective human vaccines for H5N1 viruses become available. Journal of Infectious Diseases 2005;192:1311-1314.