February 25, 2021

NIOSH to Study Airborne Transmission of Influenza

NIOSH is requesting an extension for an existing research project focused on factors that influence the transmission of influenza, a new Federal Register notice states. The study, which is intended to improve understanding of the likelihood that influenza virus will be transmitted by infectious airborne particles produced during coughing and breathing, was temporarily stopped last year due to pandemic-related concerns and challenges.

The agency seeks approval from the Office of Management and Budget for the study to span three years. NIOSH researchers will follow 90 volunteer test subjects each year during that time and will compare the production of infectious aerosols by patients who have influenza with the levels of biomarkers of influenza infection in the patients’ blood. According to NIOSH, influenza remains a significant public health concern “because of the substantial health burden from seasonal influenza and the potential for a severe pandemic.” In addition, research related to airborne transmission of influenza informs infection control and personal protective measures in healthcare facilities.

NIOSH’s request for an extension comes with an additional 30 days for comments from the public and affected agencies. Comments related to the research project must be submitted by March 25, 2021. Further details are available in the Federal Register.