Face Masks Are Important During Influenza Pandemics
Many pundits make fun of face masks and downplay their effectiveness in both helping people avoid the flu virus or spreading the flu virus. For a variety of reasons, they are correct. That is, for most face masks. Many articles will point to the fact that an N95 mask or respirator is only certified to eliminate 95% of particles (equal to or greater than .3 microns) and that viruses are typically smaller than this.
However, face masks are often beneficial because:
Viruses are often attached to larger airborne particles.
Although not certified to do so, some masks will filter out some particles smaller than .3 microns.
Masks discourage the wearer from touching nose and mouth, which may be a mechanism of transmission.
Some masks perform better than a N95 rating.
There are new, emerging face masks that offer biodirectional protection and actually kill deadly viruses when the wearer is either inhaling or exhaling.
The ability of an N95 face mask to filter out particles down to .3 microns 95 percent of the time is also contingent on a proper fit.
The fact is, the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) and The World Health Organization (WHO) recommend wearing masks for specific reasons; and the FDA has approved only 4 face masks for use by the general public in case of public emergencies.
The video below was developed by the CDC and is intended for the general public. It demonstrates how to put on and take off disposable respirators that are to be used in areas affected by the influenza outbreak.
Face Masks Don't Have to be Boring
There is a website called Dam Cool Pics that has a section titled, Pimp My Swine Flu Mask.
As their introduction states, "... in times of crisis, it's nice to see some crafty ingenuity on self-expression." Although these face masks are really cool and worth viewing, many of the face masks shown would be virtually useless in preventing the spread of swine, avian or any kind flu. Below is a video on the same topic - flu face mask art.
Below is a CDC video on H1N1 (Swine Flu) symptons.