Hospital-acquired infection (HAI) is an important public health issue with unacceptable levels of morbidity and mortality, over the last 5 years. Disease can be transmitted by air (over large distances), by direct/indirect contact or a combination of both routes. While contact transmission of disease forms the majority of HAI cases, transmission through the air is harder to control, but one where the engineering sciences can play an important role in limiting the spread. This forms the focus of this themed volume.
In this paper, we describe the current hospital environment and review the contributions from microbiologists, mechanical and civil engineers, and mathematicians to this themed volume on the airborne transmission of infection in hospitals. The review also points out some of the outstanding scientific questions and possible approaches to mitigating transmission.