Warning: possible spoilers. Read at your own risk.
In the television show version of Jessica Jones, at one point she captures Killgrave and puts him in a hermetically sealed room. She tells another character that so long as he can't breathe the same air, his powers won't work.
Placing Killgrave in the hermetically sealed room occurred one or two episodes before Killgrave's parents were discovered, and so it was before they knew that Killgrave's powers were driven by a virus.
Without any idea of the cause, he could be magic for all she knows. (All the characters on the show live in a universe connected to the Avengers movies, so they are all aware that there are super people who look and act like gods, so magic is not out of the question.) Or it could be based on line of sight from him. Or something else entirely. I didn't see anything in the series to that point that demonstrated that air was the medium through which his powers operated. Maybe I missed something?
How could she have possibly known that it would be safe to hear his voice or look at him so long as he was sealed off in a hermetically sealed room?