Study: Flu Masks Effective

As this year's rough flu season continues with seemingly no end in sight, many are looking to more drastic measures than simply getting a flu shot, washing your hands or covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze.  Instead, wearing a flu mask might be the answer for some people when it comes to preventing the flu.


According to research compiled by U.S. Healthworks, a new study shows that flu germs can become airborne without a sneeze or cough, but simply through the vapor we breathe out.  "The study found 75 percent of those micro droplets---and you breathe out millions of them---had live virus in them," says Dr. Don Bucklin with U.S. Healthworks.  "So there's a whole lot more live flu virus floating around than you would possibly anticipate."


As for the usefulness of a mask, Dr. Bucklin cites another study that examined people who live with someone who has the flu.  "(The study) had them wear a mask the entire time their partner was sick, and they found (the mask) cut down flu transmission by 80 percent," he tells KTRH.  And, Dr. Bucklin adds that the mask solution works both ways.  "If we could get people who actually have the flu to wear a mask, that would cut way down on the amount of virus particles in the air," he says.


Specifically, Dr. Bucklin recommends a flu mask for people with existing medical conditions or weakened immune systems.  However, he doesn't recommend wearing a mask in public all the time for most people, and warns that you should discard any mask after each use.  "Even a paper or cloth surgical mask that you buy at the local drugstore will help you a lot," he says.

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