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Direct estimates of absolute ventilation and estimated Mycobacterium tuberculosis transmission risk in clinics in South Africa

Beckwith, Peter G; Karat, Aaron S; Govender, Indira; Deol, Arminder K; McCreesh, Nicky; Kielmann, Karina; Baisley, Kathy; ... Yates, Tom A; + view all (2022) Direct estimates of absolute ventilation and estimated Mycobacterium tuberculosis transmission risk in clinics in South Africa. PLOS Global Public Health , 2 (11) , Article e0000603. 10.1371/journal.pgph.0000603. Green open access

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Abstract

Healthcare facilities are important sites for the transmission of pathogens spread via bioaerosols, such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Natural ventilation can play an important role in reducing this transmission. We aimed to measure rates of natural ventilation in clinics in KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape provinces, South Africa, then use these measurements to estimate Mycobacterium tuberculosis transmission risk. We measured ventilation in clinic spaces using a tracer-gas release method. In spaces where this was not possible, we estimated ventilation using data on indoor and outdoor carbon dioxide levels. Ventilation was measured i) under usual conditions and ii) with all windows and doors fully open. Under various assumptions about infectiousness and duration of exposure, measured absolute ventilation rates were related to risk of Mycobacterium tuberculosis transmission using the Wells-Riley Equation. In 2019, we obtained ventilation measurements in 33 clinical spaces in 10 clinics: 13 consultation rooms, 16 waiting areas and 4 other clinical spaces. Under usual conditions, the absolute ventilation rate was much higher in waiting rooms (median 1769 m3/hr, range 338–4815 m3/hr) than in consultation rooms (median 197 m3/hr, range 0–1451 m3/hr). When compared with usual conditions, fully opening existing doors and windows resulted in a median two-fold increase in ventilation. Using standard assumptions about infectiousness, we estimated that a health worker would have a 24.8% annual risk of becoming infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and that a patient would have an 0.1% risk of becoming infected per visit. Opening existing doors and windows and rearranging patient pathways to preferentially use better ventilated clinic spaces result in important reductions in Mycobacterium tuberculosis transmission risk. However, unless combined with other tuberculosis infection prevention and control interventions, these changes are insufficient to reduce risk to health workers, and other highly exposed individuals, to acceptable levels.

Type: Article
Title: Direct estimates of absolute ventilation and estimated Mycobacterium tuberculosis transmission risk in clinics in South Africa
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgph.0000603
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgph.0000603
Language: English
Additional information: © 2022 Beckwith et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Infection and Immunity
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10176701
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