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Protecting the Frontline: Designing an Infection Prevention Platform for Preventing Emerging Respiratory Viral Illnesses in Healthcare Personnel

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 January 2015

Westyn Branch-Elliman*
Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Eastern Colorado Veterans Affairs Healthcare System; Denver, Colorado Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, Colorado
Connie Savor Price
Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, Colorado Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Denver Health and Hospital, Denver, Colorado
Allison McGeer
Mount Sinai Hospital and the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto, Toronto
Trish M. Perl
Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
Address correspondence to Westyn Branch-Elliman, MD, MMSc, Eastern Colorado Healthcare System, 1055 Clermont St, Mailstop 111L, Denver, CO (


Healthcare personnel often find themselves on the frontlines of any epidemic, and may be at particularly high risk of acquiring respiratory viral illnesses when compared to the general population. Many aspects dictate how respiratory viruses spread both inside the hospital and out: Elements to consider include the specific type of virus being targeted for prevention, as well as environmental conditions and host factors, such as age and immune status. Due to the diverse nature of these agents, multiple modes of transmission, including contact, droplet, aerosol, and transocular, must be considered when designing an effective infection prevention program. In this review, we examine the data behind current theories of respiratory virus transmission and key elements of any respiratory illness prevention program. We also highlight other influences that may come into play, such as the cost-effectiveness of choosing one respiratory protection strategy over another.

Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2014;00(0): 1–10

Review Article
© 2014 by The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. All rights reserved 

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