Public ground transportation and transmission of airborne infectious diseases

Added July 20, 2020

Citation: Mohr O, Askar M, Schink S, et al. Evidence for airborne infectious disease transmission in public ground transport–a literature review. Eurosurveillance. 2012 Aug 30;17(35):20255.

What is this? The COVID-19 pandemic has raised concerns about the transmission of the virus in transportation systems and hubs. Existing research on the transmission of airborne infectious diseases in public ground transport might provide useful information for policy makers.

In this systematic review, the authors searched for studies on the transmission of airborne infectious diseases in public ground transport, in part to draw conclusions about the potential value of contact tracing for this type of travel. They restricted their searches to articles published in English and German and did the search in December 2010. They included 32 studies, mostly dealing with the transmission of tuberculosis (TB).

What was found: Crowding of passengers in buses may increase transmission of TB and meningococcal disease.

The effects of overcrowding, exposure duration, proximity to the index case, ventilation and other environmental factors on the risk of transmission of airborne diseases in public ground transport are uncertain.

The authors concluded that considering the difficulty and probably limited effectiveness of contact tracing for ground transport, it would only be justified in exceptional circumstances.


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