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Research provides new insight regarding transmission of the influenza virus.

Although there is little data on their benefit, the Centers for Disease Control recommend that healthcare centers provide surgical masks to suspected flu patients in an effort to reduce aerosol transmission of the influenza virus. A study conducted by a research team at the University of Maryland found that people may be exposed to the flu through airborne virus more frequently than previously thought. The study also found that when flu patients wear a surgical mask, the release of virus in even the smallest airborne droplets can be significantly reduced. *

"Our study provides new evidence that there is nearly nine times more influenza virus present in the smallest airborne droplets in the breath exhaled from those infected with flu than in the larger droplets that would be expected to carry more virus. This has important implications for how we prevent the spread of flu," explains Donald Milton, MD, DrPH, Director of the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health that led the study of aerosol spread of the influenza virus that was published in the journal PLOS Pathogens.

Dr. Milton and his team collected samples of exhaled particles (one with and one without a facemask) in two sizes (fine and coarse) from 37 volunteers within 5 days of seasonal influenza onset, measured viral copy number, and tested the fine-particle fraction for culturable virus. Overall, masks produced a 3.4 fold reduction in viral aerosol shedding.


* PLoS Pathog. 2013 Mar;9(3): e1003205.

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Title Annotation:IN THE NEWS
Publication:Life Extension
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2013
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