Face mask use and control of respiratory virus transmission in households

Item Type:

Publication

Title

Face mask use and control of respiratory virus transmission in households

Description

Many countries are stockpiling face masks for use as a nonpharmaceutical intervention to control virus transmission during an influenza pandemic.

Date Last Updated (Year-Month-Day)

2009-02

Citation

MacIntyre, C. Raina, Cauchemez Simon, E. Dwyer Dominic, Seale Holly, Cheung Pamela, Browne Gary, Fasher Michael, Wood James, Gao Zhanhai, Booy Robert, and Ferguson Neil. 2009. "Face Mask Use and Control of Respiratory Virus Transmission in Households." Emerging Infectious Disease journal 15 (2):233.

Abstract

Abstract

Many countries are stockpiling face masks for use as a nonpharmaceutical intervention to control virus transmission during an influenza pandemic. We conducted a prospective cluster-randomized trial comparing surgical masks, non–fit-tested P2 masks, and no masks in prevention of influenza-like illness (ILI) in households. Mask use adherence was self-reported. During the 2006 and 2007 winter seasons, 286 exposed adults from 143 households who had been exposed to a child with clinical respiratory illness were recruited. We found that adherence to mask use significantly reduced the risk for ILI-associated infection, but <50% of participants wore masks most of the time. We concluded that household use of face masks is associated with low adherence and is ineffective for controlling seasonal respiratory disease. However, during a severe pandemic when use of face masks might be greater, pandemic transmission in households could be reduced.
Many countries are stockpiling face masks for use as nonpharmaceutical interventions to reduce viral transmission during an influenza pandemic. We conducted a prospective cluster-randomized trial comparing surgical masks, non–fit-tested P2 masks, and no masks in prevention of influenza-like illness (ILI) in households. During the 2006 and 2007 winter seasons, 286 exposed adults from 143 households who had been exposed to a child with clinical respiratory illness were recruited. Intent-to-treat analysis showed no significant difference in the relative risk of ILI in the mask use groups compared with the control group; however, <50% of those in the mask use groups reported wearing masks most of the time. Adherence to mask use was associated with a significantly reduced risk of ILI-associated infection. We concluded that household use of masks is associated with low adherence and is ineffective in controlling seasonal ILI. If adherence were greater, mask use might reduce transmission during a severe influenza pandemic.

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