Physical interventions to interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses

Added November 18, 2013

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There is some evidence to suggest that some low cost and simple interventions such as hand washing would be useful in helping to reduce the transmission of epidemic respiratory viruses. Implementing transmission barriers, isolation and hygienic measures are effective at containing respiratory virus epidemics. Surgical masks or N95 respirators were the most consistent and comprehensive supportive measures. However, the long term implementation of these interventions poses a challenge where no threat of epidemic is detected.

Viral pandemics and epidemics of acute respiratory infections like influenza or severe acute respiratory syndrome  are a global threat. The use of vaccinations and antiviral medications may not necessarily stop the transmission of viruses. The aim of the review was to examine the effectiveness (harms and benefits) of physical interventions to interrupt and reduce the spread of respiratory viruses.