Influenza is transmitted from person to person through large particle respiratory droplets which can travel up to 6 feet. Transmission may also occur via contact of infectious particles to mucosal surfaces, such as when someone coughs or sneezes in close contact or on a surface. Thus, patients with confirmed or suspected influenza must, in addition to standard precautions, adhere to droplet precautions. According to the CDC, patients with confirmed or suspected influenza should adhere to droplet precautions for seven days after illness onset or until 24 hours after the resolution of fever and respiratory symptoms in the health care setting. Some health care facilities may have a specific policy requiring a longer duration of adherence to droplet precautions.
Most health care facilities have an infection control nurse or department to contact if there are any questions regarding the level of transmission-based precautions. Furthermore, the CDC offers a comprehensive reference
with explicit details on preventing the spread of influenza in the health care setting.
As a review, the CDC guidelines for isolation precautions are presented in the infographics below.
(Please click infographics to view larger sizes.)
Megan Doble, MSN, RN, CRNP
Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 2016. Prevention Strategies for Seasonal Influenza in Healthcare Settings: Guidelines and Recommendations. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/infectioncontrol/healthcaresettings.htm#
Siegel, J.D., Rhinehart, E., Jackson, M., Chiarello, L., & the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee, (2007). Guideline for Isolation Precautions: Preventing Transmission of Infectious Agents in Healthcare Settings 2007. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/pdf/isolation2007.pdf
More Reading & Resources
Transmission-based isolation precautions for common pathogens
Evaluating Isolation Behaviors by Nurses Using Mobile Computer Workstations at the Bedside
Clinical Challenges in Isolation Care