Most folks are aware of the perils of surface contamination as it relates to the transmission of infectious diseases. Contaminated hands touching door knobs, remote controls, furniture and the like are generally well known as potential routes of transmission. Less understood are the variables and manner in which germs can be moved through the air to cause infectious disease. In this entry, we offer up some of the abundant research and studies that show a number of diseases can be spread through the air. It is important that we acknowledge and continue to try to understand the nuances of the airborne transmission of germs. Until we recognize this, we will fall short in attempts to form broad strategies focused on containing diseases.

  • This informative review done by the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine provides an overarching look at airborne dynamics, including the host of variables that need be considered when determining best practices for the reduction of airborne risks. It explores airborne pathogens in a variety of settings – healthcare, travel and leisure, office building among them.
  • This piece concludes that airborne may play a role in a hospital setting. Significance of Airborne Transmission of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in an Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Unit
  • An international team of experts suggest that Ebola can be transmitted through the air, contrary to early belief that they can be transmitted only through direct contact with infected bodily fluids. Experts suspect Ebola virus sometimes spreads by air.
  • Credit CDC

    Particle size affects the distance germs can travel through the air. The tiniest of particles can travel great distances through the air. In the cloud: How coughs and sneezes float farther than you think is a fascinating piece from MIT.