Aerosol expert: We can't ignore the role of airborne flu spread

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Experts should use what has been learned about airborne transmission of COVID-19 to change the trajectory of the flu season, wrote Linsey Marr, PhD, Oct. 19 for The New York Times.

"I’ve long believed, based on years of research, that the role of aerosols in the spread of many respiratory viruses is underappreciated by the medical community," Dr. Marr wrote. "I hope that Covid-19 has catalyzed a shift in thinking about the air we breathe."

Dr. Marr cited research that, like COVID-19, people can spread the flu even when they don’t have symptoms, further indication that transmission doesn’t require droplets and can occur without coughing or sneezing.

"People who want to prevent flu infection should get their seasonal flu vaccine," Dr. Marr wrote. "They should also now feel more comfortable using masks. The use of masks, along with washing hands, appears to reduce transmission of flu to others within households."

Dr. Marr added air cleaning should be embraced more thoroughly during flu season and to reduce pandemic cases.

"Ventilation and filtration are two proven techniques for physically removing viruses from the air, so that people are exposed to fewer of them," she wrote.

 

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