How Is Airborne Disease Being Transmitted In Hospitals?

One in 25 hospitalized patients are affected by a health care-associated infection, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Patients picked up 721,800 HAIs at U.S. acute care hospitals in 2011. Of those infected, about 75,000 died, according to the CDC.

Here are some examples of dangerous airborne pathogens your staff should be prepared to handle:


Airborne HAIs came more into focus with reports of deaths caused by mold clusters at two Pennsylvania hospitals.
Investigation showed heavy mold growth on the hospital linens being used.

Legionnaires’ Disease

Awareness of health care-association infections increased after a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak killed 12 people in the South Bronx.

Legionnaires’ disease doesn’t spread from person to person. Instead, the bacteria spreads  through mist, such as from air-conditioning units for large buildings.


Tuberculosis can be a source of outbreak in hospitals. Health care workers infected with TB can spread infection widely, requiring extensive screening of patients and staff.


Norovirus, transmitted through the air, is difficult to contain in a hospital ward without sufficient single rooms with en suite toilets. 

To ensure sufficient dilution of bacterial load around an infected patient room, air should be changed 10-20 times every hour. This is difficult to maintain with ventilation systems especially in negative pressure rooms. More on that below.


MRSA can survive on skin scales for up to 80 days, and spores of Clostridium difficile may last even longer. MRSA can travel in the air on these smaller skin scales for the length of a ward. Minimal colonization of these bacteria on open wounds and mucous membranes can cause significant infections