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October 25, 2006

Your Good Looks Or Your Life?

According to Laurence Wein, pandemic flu will kill us all. And hand-washing ain't gonna stop it. Indeed, researchers have apparently found that aerosol transmission -- where the virus in inhaled -- is dominant in influenza infection. That means hand-washing, which works against contact transmission, won't do much. So what're we going to do? Look ugly:

the single most effective intervention is face protection. And because roughly one-third of influenza transmissions occur before an infected person exhibits symptoms, these precautions should be taken whenever people are in the same room throughout the pandemic period.

There are two kinds of face protection: N95 respirators, as worn by construction workers, for instance, and surgical masks of the sort worn by dental hygienists. (The respirators cost roughly a dollar apiece, the surgical masks 10 cents.) Their efficacy in preventing aerosol transmission depends on three factors: the extent to which the face filter prevents virus particles from passing through, how tightly the device fits and — most important — how long people can be coerced into wearing them.

To our surprise, we found that the filters in surgical masks, although not as good as the filters in N95 respirators, are still quite effective. And although a surgical mask fits much more loosely and allows more leakage, it’s also more comfortable — and therefore likely to be effective because it’s used more. Wearing nylon hosiery over a surgical mask essentially eliminates the face leakage, making this combination a practical, albeit macabre, alternative. The less comfortable N95 respirators would probably result in lower compliance.

So surgical masks fitted with nylon hosiery. Well, at least STD transmission will fall as well.

October 25, 2006 in Health and Medicine | Permalink


It's an Islamofascist plot! They're gonna make us ALL wear veils! Even MEN! Bwaaaa! Run to your cottage in the hills NOW! I hope you all stored five years' worth of beans! (Another way to keep STD transmission down).

Posted by: kvenlander | Oct 25, 2006 2:04:52 PM

This ought to disturb Anne Applebaum's delicate,/a> sensibilities.

Posted by: Sara | Oct 25, 2006 2:25:14 PM


Posted by: Sara | Oct 25, 2006 2:25:35 PM

So, if I keep doing body work on my hybrid 1972 Charger I will never catch a virus?

Not a bad deal. Doubleplus bonus: I did not need beer for hours after getting out of the fumes too!

Posted by: Guy Montag | Oct 25, 2006 2:44:42 PM

Now, Ezra. Everybody knows how good looking you are.

A surgical mask won't help fend off the hoards.

Posted by: sa rose | Oct 25, 2006 10:55:41 PM

yeah, Ezra, you hottie.

don't you realize that for most of us guys, putting on a surgical mask *reduces* the ugly?

People used to ask me to put one on just for class picture day, for god sake.

Posted by: kid bitzer | Oct 26, 2006 2:50:17 PM

When is this long-predicted pandemic supposed to arrive? I'm getting a little sick of all the crying wolf.

Posted by: Gus | Oct 26, 2006 5:13:48 PM

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