Masks Might Not Stop Bird Flu

April 28, 2006
by Lauran Neergaard
Associated Press

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 yesterday. That's the bottom line from a long-awaited probe ordered by the government as it stockpiles supplies for a flu pandemic. If it does strike, millions undoubtedly will turn to masks, raising a problem for the prestigious scientific organization: It is not clear that masks truly block the influenza virus... ...The report shows the government should buy more, said Jeff Levi of the advocacy group Trust for America's Health. France, which is much smaller, has ordered 200 million masks, he said.

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