Friday, August 23, 2013

CDC EID: Protection by Face Masks against Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 Virus on Trans-Pacific Passenger Aircraft, 2009

Volume 19, Number 9—September 2013 


In response to several influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 infections that developed in passengers after they traveled on the same 2 flights from New York, New York, USA, to Hong Kong, China, to Fuzhou, China, we assessed transmission of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus on these flights. We defined a case of infection as onset of fever and respiratory symptoms and detection of virus by PCR in a passenger or crew member of either flight. Illness developed only in passengers who traveled on the New York to Hong Kong flight. We compared exposures of 9 case-passengers with those of 32 asymptomatic control-passengers. None of the 9 case-passengers, compared with 47% (15/32) of control-passengers, wore a face mask for the entire flight (odds ratio 0, 95% CI 0–0.71). The source case-passenger was not identified. Wearing a face mask was a protective factor against influenza infection. We recommend a more comprehensive intervention study to accurately estimate this effect.

Case–Control Study
To assess risk factors for transmission of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 on the New York to Hong Kong flight, we conducted a case–control study. We compared exposure history and other risk factors of 9 confirmed case-passengers with those of 32 control-passengers in the economy-class cabin. We attempted to contact 55 noninfected passengers who disembarked in Fuzhou and 18 noninfected passengers who disembarked in Hong Kong, and we interviewed all persons >5 years of age who agreed to be interviewed. Crew members and business-class passengers were excluded. A total of 32 noninfected passengers provided complete information and served as controls. Of these 32 control-passengers, 28 boarded in New York; 27 disembarked in Fuzhou and 1 disembarked in Hong Kong; and 4 boarded in Vancouver and disembarked in Hong Kong.
We conducted face-to-face interviews with case- and control-passengers bound for Fuzhou at hospitals or hotel rooms where they were quarantined. For passengers quarantined at home or who disembarked in Hong Kong (including 1 case-passenger in Hong Kong), interviews were conducted by telephone. Using a standard questionnaire, we interviewed case- and control-passengers on factors potentially affecting the likelihood of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus infection during the 7 days before and during the flight. These factors included contact with ILI patients ≤1 week before the flight, moving around the airplane during the flight, lavatory use, handwashing, face mask use (wearing a face mask, for how long, and when they wore it and did not wear it), and talking with other passengers.


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