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#153721 - 10/30/08 05:30 AM Masks, sanitizers, hand washing for Flu prevention
redflare Offline

Registered: 12/25/05
Posts: 647
Loc: SF Bay Area, CA

It looks like even a "standard medical procedure mask" can prevent influenza spread significantly.

From: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/127160.php

"The first-year results (2006-2007) indicate that mask use and alcohol-based hand sanitizer help reduce influenza- like illness rates, ranging from 10 to 50 percent over the study period,"

#153732 - 10/30/08 01:47 PM Re: Masks, sanitizers, hand washing for Flu prevention [Re: redflare]
Blast Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 3593
Loc: TX
I love seeing information like that posted here. Thank you very much.

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*As an Amazon Influencer, I may earn a sales commission on Amazon links in my posts.

#153749 - 10/30/08 05:16 PM Re: Masks, sanitizers, hand washing for Flu prevention [Re: ]
MDinana Offline

Registered: 03/08/07
Posts: 2196
Loc: Beer&Cheese country
Bah... who should be surpsied at this study?

Flu is spread two ways: droplet and contact. Wear a mask, you stop droplet. And, since the flu virus is in the fluid that people hack up, I'd think even the ole "Cowboy" mask would help a bit.

Second, flu virus lives on inanimate objects (fomites) or on skin. You pick it up, get it in your system, and you catch it. Wash your hands, and you pretty much don't get it.

You don't see hospitals and EMS systems falling apary annually. Basic precautions work. N95 for flu is overkill.

As for alcohol drying the skin, sounds like your hospital needs to get the sanitizer that has emolients in it. Straight alcohol would dry your skin out. My hospital uses some brand, and it hasn't cracked my hands in over a year be being here. But, yes, hand washing is what I do if it's more than just touching a patient during a physical - wound care, procedures, etc.

#153754 - 10/30/08 06:22 PM Re: Masks, sanitizers, hand washing for Flu preven [Re: MDinana]
Arney Offline

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
I'd agree that this study doesn't tell us much, although I am glad that it was done. There is so little research out there about how regular people can protect themselves during epidemics/pandemics.

There wasn't even much flu in the study population--only three confirmed cases--so I'm not sure how well these results apply to any real flu outbreak. Even without masks and alcohol hand sanitizers, I suspect that if these same students just washed their hands appropriately in the bathroom, avoided touching their hands to their faces, and followed proper cough/sneeze etiquette, there's a good chance the results would have been quite similar.

In another situation, if there was some highly virulent strain of flu circulating, then maybe masks and hand sanitizers would help more, but no one really knows for sure. That's why more of these community-based studies need to be done. I'm curious to see the analysis of the 2007-2008 season.

#153756 - 10/30/08 06:32 PM Re: Masks, sanitizers, hand washing for Flu preven [Re: redflare]
Susan Offline

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
My last American Science & Surplus catalog is showing a box of individually packaged disposable face masks, 50 masks for $12.50 (+ shpg).

These are the folded kind, not the molded kind (although they have those, too). Description: "Extra-good quality disposable masks: Latex- and fiberglass-free, with a PVC nosepiece; 99% bacteriological and particulate filtration efficiency and fluid resistance. Measure 7" x 3.75" with elastic earstraps and 4-fold, cone-shape construction. Pacaged individually."
American Science & Surplus folded face mask http://www.sciplus.com/search.cfm?utm_so...amp;btnHand.y=0


#153759 - 10/30/08 07:12 PM Re: Masks, sanitizers, hand washing for Flu preven [Re: Susan]
jshannon Offline

Registered: 02/02/03
Posts: 585
Loc: North Texas
3M Avaguard D contains moisturizers.

#153785 - 10/31/08 12:18 AM Re: Masks, sanitizers, hand washing for Flu preven [Re: jshannon]
eric_2003 Offline

Registered: 09/14/07
Posts: 56
You can add glycerin to a 70% gel, all you need is 2-5 mls per 100 mls. As long as the percentage of alcohol stays above 60% with the dilution, you still get the antimicrobial effect but also get the emollient effect with the glycerin. I use just straight alcohol (no gel) with glycerin mixed in. Need to wash the glycerin residue up after 4-5 uses though.


#153799 - 10/31/08 02:04 AM Re: Masks, sanitizers, hand washing for Flu preven [Re: eric_2003]

I think nursemike should weigh in, handwashing is the #1 key, whatever you use, and not touching anything around your, er, openings.
If it is occasional I'm sure the alcohol based ones are fine and effective, but my nurses stay away from it because of the frequency of their need to wash and the drying effect described above. The also claimed that the alcohol would remove beneficial bacteria. I have no empirical data on that claim.

I buy the Walgreen's moist wipes, non alcohol but with emolients and a nice scent, and I can put them everywhere, BOB, car, desk, coat pocket, etc. and not worry about leakage.

Masks are good for airborne anything, if in an environment where that is a risk- have you noticed how many people wear them on planes now?
Back in the day, when I was in a higher risk of exposure job, we did TB mask fitting by individual and kept them ziploc'd and on hand, the prevailing wisdom being that the typical masks had to much leakage to protect you.....

#153807 - 10/31/08 02:42 AM Re: Masks, sanitizers, hand washing for Flu preven [Re: ]
redflare Offline

Registered: 12/25/05
Posts: 647
Loc: SF Bay Area, CA
The thing I find interesting is that I have seen several studies which show that hand washing is less effective then alcohol gel in killing bacteria on your hands. Here is one of them from Australia http://www.cec.health.nsw.gov.au/pdf/AlcoholHandRub061013.pdf

#153809 - 10/31/08 02:51 AM Re: Masks, sanitizers, hand washing for Flu preven [Re: redflare]

I hear yuh, and agree, I think it is the accumulative effect of continual alcohol use on the skin that I wanted to weight in on from what the guys and gals that saw multiple patients a day had to say (in my isolated experience).
Any handwashing is good, something that kills bugs, better, and the individual has to see how their body reacts. Anyone else heard the "alcohol kills good germs" theory from a medical professional?

#153878 - 10/31/08 11:58 PM Re: Masks, sanitizers, hand washing for Flu preven [Re: redflare]
eric_2003 Offline

Registered: 09/14/07
Posts: 56
Handwashing is in general less effective than alcohol based preparations. Outside of North America, this seems to be more well accepted, though the last CDC (I think) summary was starting to say alcohol was as good and possibly better for not visibly soiled hands. I use have to use handwashing because I deal with chemically sensitive patients who react to the smell of alcohol, otherwise I would stick with the alcohol.


#153893 - 11/01/08 07:43 AM Re: Masks, sanitizers, hand washing for Flu preven [Re: eric_2003]
KG2V Offline


Registered: 08/19/03
Posts: 1371
Loc: Queens, New York City
One of the huge problems in hand washing - almost no one spends near enough TIME when they wash their hands. You should Ideally spend at least 20-30 seconds scrubbing with soap/water. Doesn't sound long, but a good timer - sing "twinkle-twinkle litte star"

With the waterless cleaners - they force you to run your hands together till dry....
73 de KG2V
You are what you do when it counts - The Masso
Homepage: http://www.thegallos.com
Blog: http://kg2v.blogspot.com

#153914 - 11/01/08 03:07 PM Re: Masks, sanitizers, hand washing for Flu preven [Re: redflare]
TeacherRO Offline

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 2471
I have been EDC'ing a 2 oz bottle of sanitizer year 'round. That, hand washing, getting plenty of rest...all good ideas. Its often the simplest stuff.

#153992 - 11/02/08 03:27 PM Re: Masks, sanitizers, hand washing for Flu preven [Re: TeacherRO]
comms Offline

Registered: 07/23/08
Posts: 1502
Loc: Mesa, AZ
+1 on Purel in the EDC. At Target in the travel toiletry section I found a small bottle with a rubber clip, or 'jelly leash' so it can be attached to the outside of a bag.

My brother has a larger bottle he carries in his Load Bearing Vest that is from US Cav or similar that is a hard Mil-Spec bottle that I will be picking up shortly.
Don't just survive. Thrive.

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