February 08, 2007

Face masks and the flu


As part of a University of Michigan study, "Researchers are trying to determine whether wearing surgical masks and hand sanitizing can prevent the spread of flu or other respiratory illnesses."

The Japanese have been doing this for decades. Not the hand sanitizer part, the surgical masks. I recall a National Geographic photo caption from an article about air pollution a while back explaining that the Tokyoite depicted was wearing a mast because of the smog. Well, the air quality may have indeed been bad back then, but that wasn't the reason for the mask.

Contrary to the Michigan study, though, accepted practice is to wear a mask if you've got a cold, not to prevent one (though masks are used preventatively during allergy season). It's common courtesy, after all.

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