Airborne Precautions - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Airborne Precautions

Airborne precautions are required to protect against airborne transmission of infectious agents.

Diseases requiring airborne precautions include, but are not limited to: Measles, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Varicella (chickenpox), and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Airborne precautions apply to patients known or suspected to be infected with microorganisms transmitted by airborne droplet nuclei.

Preventing airborne transmission requires personal respiratory protection and special ventilation and air handling.

Additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Airborne Precautions

Airborne precautions are in addition to Standard Precautions


Masks and Respirators

Additional Procedures


  • Airborne Infection Isolation Room (AIIR)
    At a minimum, AIIR rooms must:
    • Provide negative pressure room with a minimum of 6 air exchanges per hour (existing facility in compliance with codes at time of construction) or 12 air changes per hour (new construction/renovation)
    • Exhaust directly to the outside or through HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filtration
  • If an AIIR is not available:
    • Provide a facemask (e.g., procedure or surgical mask) to the patient and place the patient immediately in an exam room with a closed door
    • Instruct the patient to keep the facemask on while in the exam room, if possible, and to change the mask if it becomes wet
    • Initiate protocol to transfer patient to a health care facility that has the recommended infection-control capacity to properly manage the patient


  • Have patient enter through a separate entrance to the facility (e.g., dedicated isolation entrance), if available, to avoid the reception and registration area
  • Instruct patient to wear a facemask when exiting the exam room, avoid coming into close contact with other patients , and practice respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette
  • Once the patient leaves, the exam room should remain vacant for generally one hour before anyone enters; however, adequate wait time may vary depending on the ventilation rate of the room and should be determined accordingly

How airborne transmission occurs:

Airborne transmission occurs through the dissemination of either:

  • airborne droplet nuclei (small-particles [5 micrometers or smaller] of evaporated droplets containing microorganisms that remain suspended in the air for long periods of time) or
  • dust particles that contain an infectious agent

Microorganisms carried by the airborne route can be widely dispersed by air currents and may become inhaled by a susceptible host in the same room or over a long distance form the source patient – depending on environmental factors such as temperature and ventilation.

see also>>Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Infection Control
see also>>Respiratory Protection Progam

Updated Wednesday, 20-Feb-2019 10:45:24 CST