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体育投注网址When the United States experienced an outbreak of the swine flu in 2009, everyone was talking about how to reduce the spread of the virus.

According to the , vaccine availability was limited that year because the virus wasn’t identified until manufacturers had already started producing the annual vaccine.

体育投注网址So, people started doing something most of us hadn’t really seen before to stop transmission: wearing surgical face masks.

But with the recent spread of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, people are again looking to surgical face masks as a way of protecting themselves and others from the virus, which causes the disease COVID-19.

体育投注网址But does wearing a face mask really prevent the spread of viruses, such as the flu or SARS-CoV-2?

We’ll look at recommendations from experts, unpack the research on which masks are most effective, and explain how to use masks properly.

体育投注网址 notes that simple face coverings or masks can reduce its spread:

体育投注网址“CDC recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in the community setting. This is an additional public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in addition to (not instead of) social distancing, frequent hand cleaning and other everyday preventive actions.”

The recommends healthcare workers wear face masks when working with patients who have the flu.

The CDC also patients who show signs of respiratory infections be given masks while they’re in healthcare settings until they can be isolated.

体育投注网址If you’re sick and need to be around others, properly wearing a mask can protect those around you from contracting your illness.

looked at how masks could help people with the seasonal flu limit spreading it when they exhale small droplets containing the virus. Overall, researchers found masks led to a more than threefold reduction in how much virus people sprayed into the air.

Another , analyzing data from thousands of Japanese schoolchildren, found that “vaccination and wearing a mask reduced the likelihood of developing seasonal influenza.”

Importantly, researchers also that flu rates were lower when masks were paired with proper hand hygiene.

In other words, regular handwashing remains an essential tool in preventing the spread of viruses.

or .

Respirators

Respirators, also called N95 respirator masks, are designed to protect the wearer from small particles in the air, like viruses. They’re certified by the CDC and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The name comes from the fact that they can filter of airborne particles, according to the CDC. N95 masks are also often used when painting or handling potentially toxic materials.

Respirators are selected to fit your face. They must form a perfect seal so no gaps allow airborne viruses in. Healthcare workers use them to protect against airborne infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis and anthrax.

Unlike regular face masks, respirators protect against both large and small particles.

Overall, respirators are considered much more effective at preventing the flu virus than regular face masks.

体育投注网址Still, studies have found benefits to both types of masks.

Buy N95 respirator masks from or .

Cloth face coverings or masks

Cloth face coverings or masks can be used in public settings, such as grocery stores, where you may be in close contact with others and it’s difficult to maintain your distance.

They don’t offer the same level of protection as surgical face masks or respirators. However, when worn by the public at large, they can still help reduce the community spread of viruses. This is because they help prevent people without symptoms from transmitting viruses via their respiratory droplets.

You can make your own at home using a few basic materials, such as cotton fabric, a T-shirt, or a bandana. The CDC includes 体育投注网址 for sewing your own with a machine as well as two no-sew methods.

They should fit snugly against the face, covering both your nose and mouth. Also, use ties or ear loops to keep them secure.

When removing the cloth face mask, try to avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes.

Cloth face masks shouldn’t be used by children under 2 years old, people who have trouble breathing, and people who are unable to remove their own masks.

While face masks can help reduce the spread of the flu and other respiratory viruses, they only do so if worn correctly and frequently.

Here are some guidelines for proper mask-wearing:

  • Wear a face mask when coming within 6 feet of a sick person.
  • Position the strings to keep the mask firmly in place over the nose, mouth, and chin. Try not to touch the mask again until you remove it.
  • Wear a face mask before going near other people if you have the flu.
  • If you have the flu and need to see a doctor, wear a face mask to protect others in the waiting area.
  • Consider wearing a mask in crowded settings if the flu is widespread in your community, or if you’re at high risk for flu complications.
  • When you’re done wearing a surgical face mask or respirator, throw it away and wash your hands. Never reuse it.
  • Wash your cloth face mask after each use.

When it comes to the flu, prevention is still the best method of keeping yourself safe from this highly contagious virus.

体育投注网址A face mask may offer added protection against getting sick. There are no known risks to wearing these devices, except for the cost of buying them.

While masks seem promising, it’s also important to utilize other preventive measures, too.

Make sure you wash your hands often — especially if you’re around others who may be sick. Also, be sure to get your annual flu shot to protect yourself and others from spreading the virus.