Can breathing circuit filters help prevent the spread of influenza A (H1N1) virus from intubated patients?

GMS Hyg Infect Control 2013 29;8(1):Doc09. Epub 2013 Apr 29.

Department of Anaesthesiology, Emergency and Intensive Care Medicine, University Medical Centre Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.

Introduction: In March 2010, more than 213 countries worldwide reported laboratory confirmed cases of influenza H1N1 infections with at least 16,813 deaths. In some countries, roughly 10 to 30% of the hospitalized patients were admitted to the ICU and up to 70% of those required mechanical ventilation. The question now arises whether breathing system filters can prevent virus particles from an infected patient from entering the breathing system and passing through the ventilator into the ambient air. We tested the filters routinely used in our institution for their removal efficacy and efficiency for the influenza virus A H1N1 (A/PR/8/34).

Methods: Laboratory investigation of three filters (PALL Ultipor(®) 25, Ultipor(®) 100 and Pall BB50T Breathing Circuit Filter, manufactured by Pall Life Sciences) using a monodispersed aerosol of human influenza A (H1N1) virus in an air stream model with virus particles quantified as cytopathic effects in cultured canine kidney cells (MDCK).

Results: The initial viral load of 7.74±0.27 log10 was reduced to a viral load of ≤2.43 log10, behind the filter. This represents a viral filtration efficiency of ≥99.9995%.

Conclusion: The three tested filters retained the virus input, indicating that their use in the breathing systems of intubated and mechanically ventilated patients can reduce the risk of spreading the virus to the breathing system and the ambient air.

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