Expanded Precautions are used when dealing with highly transmissible or epidemiologically important pathogens. These are pathogens or infectious agents that have one or more of the following characteristics:
- Easily transmitted along with clusters of infected people (two or more individuals) in an area.
- Standard treatments are not effective.
- A serious clinical disease that poses an increased risk of death.
- An outbreak of a newly discovered or reemerging pathogen.
These precautions may be combined for diseases that have multiple routes of transmission. They are used in addition to Standard Precautions.
- Airborne Precautions: Special precautions such as personal respiratory protection and special air handling and ventilation should be used to minimize the spread of the disease. Airborne microorganisms can be dispersed widely by air currents. A person can become infected by being in the same room or even over longer distances from the source.
- Droplet Precautions: Precautions usually include use of surgical masks or face shields when in close proximity to an infected person. Droplet transmission involves contact with contaminated large-particle droplets through a person’s eyes, nose or mouth. This type of transmission can occur when a person is close to an infected individual.
- Contact Precautions: Masks, gowns, and gloves are typically used to reduce transmission risks through direct contact. Direct-contact transmission involves skin-to-skin contact that results in the physical transfer of organisms from an infected person to another person. While use of disinfectants and decontamination procedures minimize the risk of spreading the infection through indirect contact such as touching a contaminated object in the infected person’s living or healthcare environment.