Swine Flu Study on N95 Masks Retracted
Researchers Revise Earlier Findings Suggesting N95 Masks Are Better Than Surgical Masks at Preventing Flu
WebMD Health News
Louise Chang, MD
Nov. 2, 2009 (Philadelphia) -- N95 masks may be no better than ordinary
disposable surgical masks at preventing the flu, after all.
The same researchers who reported in September that only N95 masks offer
significant protection against flu now say a reanalysis of their data shows
that just isn't true.
Holly Seale, PhD, of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia,
presented the updated results on Saturday at the annual meeting of the
Infectious Diseases Society of America.
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Neil Fishman, MD, an infectious disease specialist at the University of
Pennsylvania, says many researchers had been critical of the original
The findings didn't jibe with many doctors' experiences or with findings
from a Canadian study showing that N95 masks were no better than surgical
masks at protecting nurses against infection, he notes.
Still, the 180-degree turnaround took doctors at the meeting by surprise,
All the research to date has been in health care workers, who are exposed to
more bugs than the average person.
From a practical point of view, the new findings are welcome, because
ordinary surgical masks are cheaper and easier to find, Fishman says.
The bottom line: Getting your flu shots -- against seasonal and H1N1 swine
influenza -- is the best way to protect yourself against infection, experts
SOURCES: Infectious Diseases Society of America 47th Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, Oct. 29-Nov. 1, 2009.
Holly Seale, PhD, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
Neil Fishman, MD, University of Pennsylvania.
Journal of the American Medical Association, online edition, Oct. 1, 2009.
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