Respiratory Infections

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Respiratory Infections

Respiratory Protection/Infection Control Summary - Influenza

Respiratory Protection for Influenza - What are the options?

At this time it is hoped that this will help summarise the masks to be worn in different situations when dealing with suspected or confirmed cases of Influenza. Any new or updated evidence that is presented may impact on this guidance and as such it will be updated appropriately.


Recommended respiratory protection
for healthcare workers

Influenza (Seasonal)

Surgical masks

Avian Influenza (First cases of Avian Influenza in humans in the UK)

Ideally FFP3 respiratory protection once in hospitals

Pandemic Influenza (Based on current UK guidance)

Routinely - Surgical masks
Any potential aerosol generating procedures - FFP3 respiratory protection



  • Standard Infection Control Precautions should always be adopted in addition to specific recommendations for Influenza.
  • All PPE should conform to BSEN standards.
  • The use of 'powdered hoods' for respiratory protection against influenza has not been routinely recommended. These are only suggested for use when local risk assessment indicates that they would reduce the risk of exposure (i.e. during aerosol generating procedures where there are issues with the fit of a respirator mask, or during procedures such as post-mortems, chest openings.
    View Pandemic Flu Infection Control Guidelines
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  • No information is currently available from a national level regarding central supplies for stockpiling of resources.
  • With reference to recent activities, the following guidance was issued by the HPA with regards to the care of suspect/probable cases of SARS; specifically the appropriate use of FFP3 masks:

"Use of FFP3 filtering masks (98% filtering efficiency) conforming to EN 149:2001 for persons entering the room. Care should be given to face-fit checking and face-fit testing external website for this equipment.

In the UK, COSHH (and other) Regulations require that PPE shall comply with the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations (2002). Simply, this means PPE shall be "CE" marked, i.e. confirm to the European PPE Directive (89/686/EEC).

Conformity is usually met by compliance to the European (EN) standard e.g. EN 149.RPE which conforms to the USA N95 classification will offer similar respiratory protection to an FFP2 respirator (92% filtering efficiency) but will not be "CE" marked and therefore should not be used".

  • 3M can support the fit testing of respiratory protection and have a CD Rom for training the trainers in this.
  • If FFP3 protection is not immediately available, the next available highest category of protection should be worn, e.g. FFP2.
  • Appropriate patient masking can also be considered