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Mask may not offer protection against flu

first_imgWASHINGTON – If a worldwide flu epidemic strikes, don’t reuse a face mask – and don’t assume, either, that it will offer a lot of protection, the Institute of Medicine said Thursday. That’s the bottom line from an anxiously awaited probe requested by the government as it stockpiles supplies in case a flu pandemic begins. If it does, millions undoubtedly will turn to masks, raising a dilemma for the prestigious scientific organization: There’s little evidence about whether masks truly block the influenza virus – and if they do, just how much protection they offer. Without that information, wearing masks might spur a false sense of security, perhaps encouraging people to go into crowds or near infected patients when instead they should have stayed away. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl event“We don’t want to say, `Don’t use it,’ but don’t expect to be fully protected if you do use it. That’s a tough public health message to get out,” said Dr. Donald Burke, a professor of international health at Johns Hopkins University. Hence, “respiratory protection is the last resort to control infectious spread,” the report notes.last_img