Open hospital’s windows to prevent spread of TB, say researchers

Preventing the spread of infections like tuberculosis may be as simple as opening a window, researchers say.

“Opening windows and doors maximizes natural ventilation so that the risk of airborne contagion is much lower than with costly, maintenance-requiring mechanical ventilation systems,” the researchers wrote in Tuesday’s online issue of the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine.

“Old-fashioned clinical areas with high ceilings and large windows provide greatest protection. Natural ventilation costs little and is maintenance free,” they added.

Officials with the World Health Organization have recommended natural ventilation to limit the transmission of TB in poor areas, but until now there has been no evidence that it works.

Tuberculosis bacteria spread by floating in the air, and cases occur mainly in tropical areas, so Rod Escombe of Imperial College London and his colleagues compared the ventilation provided by the low-tech solution to modern fans in hospitals.

The researchers compared eight hospital wards in Lima, Peru, including 70 rooms built before 1950 with natural ventilation and 12 modern rooms with mechanical ventilation. Read More…

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