Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

Health Services Research & Development

Go to the ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Concordance of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in Aerosols From a Nurses Station and in Nurses and Patients During a Hospital Ward Outbreak.

Stern RA, Charness ME, Gupta K, Koutrakis P, Linsenmeyer K, Madjarov R, Martins MAG, Lemos B, Dowd SE, Garshick E. Concordance of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in Aerosols From a Nurses Station and in Nurses and Patients During a Hospital Ward Outbreak. JAMA Network Open. 2022 Jun 1; 5(6):e2216176.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


IMPORTANCE: Aerosol-borne SARS-CoV-2 has not been linked specifically to nosocomial outbreaks. OBJECTIVE: To explore the genomic concordance of SARS-CoV-2 from aerosol particles of various sizes and infected nurses and patients during a nosocomial outbreak of COVID-19. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This cohort study included patients and nursing staff in a US Department of Veterans Affairs inpatient hospital unit and long-term-care facility during a COVID-19 outbreak between December 27, 2020, and January 8, 2021. Outbreak contact tracing was conducted using exposure histories and screening with reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for SARS-CoV-2. Size-selective particle samplers were deployed in diverse clinical areas of a multicampus health care system from November 2020 to March 2021. Viral genomic sequences from infected nurses and patients were sequenced and compared with ward nurses station aerosol samples. EXPOSURE: SARS-CoV-2. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The primary outcome was positive RT-PCR results and genomic similarity between SARS-CoV-2 RNA in aerosols and human samples. Air samplers were used to detect SARS-CoV-2 RNA in aerosols on hospital units where health care personnel were or were not under routine surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 infection. RESULTS: A total of 510 size-fractionated air particle samples were collected. Samples representing 3 size fractions ( > 10 µm, 2.5-10 µm, and < 2.5 µm) obtained at the nurses station were positive for SARS-CoV-2 during the outbreak (3 of 30 samples [10%]) and negative during 9 other collection periods. SARS-CoV-2 partial genome sequences for the smallest particle fraction were 100% identical with all 3 human samples; the remaining size fractions shared > 99.9% sequence identity with the human samples. Fragments of SARS-CoV-2 RNA were detected by RT-PCR in 24 of 300 samples (8.0%) in units where health care personnel were not under surveillance and 7 of 210 samples (3.3%; P? = .03) where they were under surveillance. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In this cohort study, the finding of genetically identical SARS-CoV-2 RNA fragments in aerosols obtained from a nurses station and in human samples during a nosocomial outbreak suggests that aerosols may have contributed to hospital transmission. Surveillance, along with ventilation, masking, and distancing, may reduce the introduction of community-acquired SARS-CoV-2 into aerosols on hospital wards, thereby reducing the risk of hospital transmission.

Questions about the HSR&D website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.