Researchers may finally have an answer in the long-running controversy over whether the common surgical mask is as effective as more expensive respirator-type masks in protecting health care workers from flu and other respiratory viruses. The study reported "no significant difference in the effectiveness" of medical masks vs. N95 respirators for prevention of influenza or other viral respiratory illness. Medical personnel -- in particular nurses, doctors, and others with direct patient contact -- are at risk when treating patients with contagious diseases such as influenza flu. A large study conducted in a New York hospital system after the outbreak of H1N1, or swine flu, found almost 30 percent of health care workers in emergency departments contracted the disease themselves, Dr. Perl said.
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A brief history of masks from the 17th-century plague to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic
Content on this page was developed during the H1N1 pandemic and has not been updated. September 24, AM ET. This document provides interim guidance and will be updated as needed. This document provides updated interim guidance on the use of facemasks and respirators for decreasing the exposure to influenza A H1N1 virus. No change has been made to guidance on the use of facemasks and respirators for health care settings. This document includes guidance on facemask and respirator use for a wider range of settings than was included in previous documents and includes recommendations for those who are at increased risk of severe illness from infection with the H1N1 virus compared with those who are at lower risk of severe illness from influenza infection.
When Mask-Wearing Rules in the 1918 Pandemic Faced Resistance
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Content on this page was developed during the H1N1 pandemic and has not been updated. CDC has released updated interim guidance on infection control measures to help prevent transmission of H1N1 influenza in healthcare facilities. As a supplement to that guidance document, these questions and answers provide additional information intended to assist healthcare facilities in optimizing implementation of recommended respiratory protection practices in the context of shortages of respiratory protection equipment. The information contained in this document applies uniquely to the special circumstances of the current H1N1 pandemic during the fall and winter of , and will be updated as new information becomes available during the course of this influenza season What steps can healthcare facilities take to minimize risk of exposure to H1N1 influenza and conserve supplies of disposable N95 respirators? Healthcare facilities should take a multi-layered approach when designing a strategy to reduce exposure of healthcare personnel and patients to influenza and prevent influenza transmission within healthcare settings.