We evaluated methods to control the spread of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) on our infants' ward during a community outbreak of RSV infection. Methods included isolation and cohorting of infected infants, strict handwashing, use of gowns, and the cohorting of staff to the ill infants. Of 123 infants studied, 36 were admitted with RSV infections. Of the remaining 87 contact infants, eight (19%) acquired nosocomial RSV disease. Three of the eight developed pneumonia and one died. Of the 43 staff members, 24 (56%) became infected and 82% were symptomatic. Four acquired repeated infections within weeks of the initial infection. Studies a year previously had revealed that 45% of contact infants and 42% of the staff had acquired nosocomial RSV infections. Thus, the employed procedures appeared to have decreased the transmission of RSV to infants but not to the staff. Staff may continue to be infected by large droplets from close contact with ill infants or by self-inoculation of contaminated secretions.
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