• When you cough or sneeze, you tend to expel out respiratory waste which can be droplets (larger than 5 micron) or airborne droplets less than 5 micron; both have a different implications.
  • Droplets remain suspended in the air only for a limited period. A distance of less than 3 feet is usually required for human to human transmission of droplet-borne respiratory organisms. In flu, this distance can be up to 6 feet. The sources of droplet infections are patients with meningitis, influenza, rubella etc.
  • No precaution needs to be taken by a person who is 6–10 feet away from the patient but if a person is sitting or working even 3–6 feet distance the non-coughing person should wear simple mask.
  • In contrast, airborne droplet nuclei carrying respiratory secretion smaller than 5 micron remain suspended in the air for an extended period and can cause infections to people who are standing even more than 10 feet away. The examples of airborne droplet nuclei infections are TB, measles, chickenpox and SARS.
  • These patients should be placed in an isolation room; all healthcare personnel looking after these patients must use a safe N95 mask.
  • Usually, in houses with their windows open, there is a constant exchange of air which prevents spread of infections but in AC setups with no air exchange, the infections can spread from one person to another.
  • When sitting in an air-conditioned atmosphere, the AC setting should be such that the same air is not circulated and fresh air is allowed to exchange. Split ACs, therefore, are more dangerous than the window ACs.
  • In an office with split AC, if one of many employees is suffering from any of the droplet nuclei, disease can transmit infection to others. Therefore, patients with confirmed TV, measles, chickenpox and SARS should not be allowed to work in areas with split AC.
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