What, me wear a mask?
Surprisingly, or maybe not, we are not really sure. There are many variables that may affect whether a person coming into contact with a flu patient will catch the virus, including type of mask, tightness of fit, adherence to mask use, type of virus, proximity to the patient, length of exposure, ventilation, uv radiation, exposure to skin and conjunctiva, etc.
But really, what Skeptic is perhaps asking is: should I wear a mask?
Well, some nice people in Australia conducted a randomised trial on the use of face masks in control of respiratory virus in the household setting, and their conclusion is that "household use of masks is associated with low adherence and is ineffective in controlling seasonal ILI [influenza-like illness]". But the authors also cautioned against "extrapolating our results to school, workplace, or community contexts, or where multiple, repeated exposures may occur, such as in healthcare settings".
Not really helpful then.
But if you'll allow angry doc to give some non-evidence-based advice, this is what he'll say: I went through the SARS epidemic unscathed on personal protective equipment and good hygiene practices, but you won't catch me wearing a mask outside my workplace. Yet.
Labels: in the news