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Flu mask: Should I wear one?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/flu-mask/AN02035
- With Mayo Clinic internist
James M. Steckelberg, M.D.read biographyclose window
James M. Steckelberg, M.D.James Steckelberg, M.D.
Dr. James Steckelberg is a consultant in the Division of Infectious Diseases and a professor of medicine at Mayo Medical School.
A native of Fremont, Neb., Dr. Steckelberg was a Rhodes Scholar and graduated from the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine as a resident in internal medicine and a fellow in infectious diseases, and is board certified in both. He is the former director of the Infectious Diseases Research Laboratory at Mayo Clinic.
Dr. Steckelberg belongs to numerous professional organizations. He is a founding member of the Musculoskeletal Infection Society and a fellow of the American College of Physicians and of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He has served on many Mayo Clinic committees and is a member of the Department of Medicine Leadership Committee and of the executive committee of the Division of Infectious Diseases. He also served on the editorial boards of "Mayo Clinic Proceedings" and "Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy" and has been an editorial reviewer for more than a dozen publications.
Dr. Steckelberg's research interests include experimental models of infection, epidemiology of infection, and antimicrobial resistance and therapy of bacterial infections.
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Flu mask: Should I wear one?
Should I wear a flu mask to protect myself from the flu?
from James M. Steckelberg, M.D.
It can't hurt and it might help. A recent study in The Journal of Infectious Diseases found that wearing a surgical mask and using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer helped reduce the number of influenza-like illnesses in a group of students living in a college dormitory. Another group of college students in the study used face masks alone, which also helped prevent influenza — but not as much as the combination of face masks and hand hygiene.
People who live in community housing — such as college dorms, nursing homes or military barracks — are at higher risk of influenza infection because they're in contact with more potentially infected people.
Flu viruses travel through the air in droplets when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes or talks. You can inhale the droplets directly, or you can pick up the germs from an object — such as a telephone or computer keyboard — and then transfer them to your eyes, nose or mouth.
Flu masks may help block airborne germs, and they may also forestall the transmission of germs from your hands to your mouth or nose. However, the best way to prevent influenza is to receive the flu vaccine, either via an injection or nasal spray.Next question
Immunization: Are you immune to a disease?
- Aiello AE, et al. Mask use, hand hygiene and seasonal influenza-like illness among young adults: A randomized intervention trial. The Journal of Infectious Diseases. 2010;201:491.
- Key facts about influenza (flu) and flu vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm. Accessed Nov. 16, 2010.
- Hayden FG. Influenza. In: Goldman L, et al. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2007. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/212137917-4/0/1492/1307.html#4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-2805-5..50392-X_16358. Accessed July 29, 2010.
- Interim guidance for the use of masks to control influenza transmission. Centers for Disease Control and Protection. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/infectioncontrol/maskguidance.htm. Accessed Nov. 15, 2010.