Airborne viruses can typically hang in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. And then they are inhaled by other individuals, resulting in new infections. And these airborne viruses can affect both animals and humans. An airborne virus tends to spread more easily and may be more difficult to control than pathogens that spread through other means (microscopic causes of disease). This article contains information about the viruses suspended in the air and their types.
Airborne Virus Types
The type and number of viruses in the air is astronomical. Some viruses, such as those that cause the common cold, can mutate (change) quickly. Therefore, the following list is not exhaustive, but aims to provide examples of some of the most common types of airborne viruses:
- Rhinoviruses (cause cold symptoms but are not the only virus to cause the common cold)
- Influenza viruses (type A, type B, H1N1)
- Chickenpox viruses (cause chickenpox)
- Measles virus
- Mumps virus
- Hantavirus (a rare virus that can be transmitted from rodents to humans) 4
- Viral meningitis
- Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
Some viruses, including coronaviruses (COVID-19), have not been scientifically proven to be airborne. But there is no definitive evidence that it will not contaminate. New research results come out day by day, as it is a new one.
Airborne Illnesses Caused by Bacteria
There are certain airborne illnesses caused by bacteria, such as anthrax. Symptoms and treatment vary by pathogen, but some of these diseases can be treated with antibiotics and vaccines. The diagnosis and treatment processes of these diseases are generally as follows:
• Diagnosis: If the doctor suspects an airborne virus, they can clean the patient’s throat and take a saliva sample. Blood tests or analysis of other body fluids can sometimes be helpful in diagnosing airborne viruses.
• Treatment: Generally, airborne viruses cannot be treated with medication. However, if the airborne virus type is flu, antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu can shorten its length if taken within 48 hours after the symptom onset.
• Managing Symptoms: Many over-the-counter medications are used to manage symptoms caused by airborne viruses. For example, body aches, sore throat and fever can be managed using over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen. Cough and cold medicines can also be used to manage symptoms, but should be used with caution, especially if other medications are taken. It should not be given to children under 2 years of age.
• Rest: The body needs adequate rest if the illness is due to an airborne virus. You should stay home and get plenty of sleep until they get better. One should not go to work or school.
• Prescription drugs: In some cases, antiviral drugs may be prescribed. For example, there are four FDA-approved antivirals that are sometimes given to shorten the duration and severity of influenza infections; These are Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate), Relenza (zanamivir), Rapivab (peramivir), Xofluza (baloxavir marboxil). In severe cases, antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent secondary infections such as pneumonia. Secondary infections can occur as the immune system is already weakened from viral infection. Secondary infections can sometimes be more dangerous than a primary airborne viral infection.
How Are Airborne Viruses Transmitted?
Airborne viruses are essentially small enough to become aerosolized. An infected person can spread them through coughing, sneezing, breathing, and talking. A susceptible person is someone who has not developed immunity to the virus through vaccination or previous infection, or who may have a weakened immune system that increases the likelihood of contracting an underlying disease or infection. Some airborne viruses can survive on surfaces for an hour or two after leaving the body. Later, infections can be transmitted by touching the surface, rubbing the eyes, nose or mouth.
In general, most airborne viruses are highly unstable when they leave their host’s body. However, droplets of infected body fluids cannot be underestimated in terms of their transmission role and precautions must be taken to prevent infection in this way. Air is an important factor in the transmission of any airborne disease. This is why most of these diseases have a season. For example, the flu usually peaks in the colder months, and people can be confined indoors with poor ventilation. In addition, ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun is detrimental to infectious particles, so airborne viruses are less contagious during long summer days with plenty of sunlight. Rainfall and humidity levels also play an important role, with high humidity levels facilitating the spread of airborne diseases.
How to Protect from Airborne Viruses?
There are some precautions that can be taken to protect against airborne viruses. With these measures, it is possible to prevent diseases and slow down the course of the disease. We can list these ways as follows:
• Vaccines: Vaccines are available for airborne viruses such as measles, mumps and chickenpox. Vaccines are vital in reducing infections and deaths caused by these viruses. The best way to protect oneself or others is to get vaccinated.
• Good Ventilation: Good ventilation is essential to prevent the spread of airborne viruses. In modern hospitals, high-tech ventilation systems turn the air at a high rate to prevent the spread of infection. Natural ventilation using doors and windows can also be helpful in some situations (especially residential areas where pollution or insects are not a problem). Properly maintaining the ventilation system in the home or adding special filters can also help prevent the spread of disease.
• Hygiene: As with all infectious diseases, proper hygiene is essential to prevent the spread of airborne viruses. The mouth and nose should always be covered with a handkerchief or elbow, especially when coughing or sneezing. You should wash your hands frequently and those who are sick should stay home. It is estimated that, within about 1.5 meters of an infected person, they can easily inhale airborne viruses. It is a good idea to maintain a healthy distance from anyone known to be infected with these viruses.
• Mask: Many people wonder whether surgical masks or other face masks will prevent them from catching an airborne disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend routine wearing of any type of mask for healthy people outside of the healthcare setting for this purpose. However, those who are already sick can wear a face mask to prevent others from getting sick. However, after the last covid-19 epidemic, the effects of wearing masks on the prevention and spread of the disease in daily life were discussed, and the use of masks was emphasized.