"Our data show that the incidence of laboratory-confirmed influenza was similar in nurses wearing the surgical mask and those wearing the N95 respirator. Surgical masks had an estimated efficacy within 1 percent of N95 respirators," the authors write. "That is, surgical masks appeared to be no worse, within a prespecified margin, than N95 respirators in preventing influenza."
In conclusion the authors state: "Our findings apply to routine care in the health care setting. They should not be generalized to settings where there is a high risk for aerosolization, such as intubation or bronchoscopy, where use of an N95 respirator would be prudent. In routine health care settings, particularly where the availability of N95 respirators is limited, surgical masks appear to be non-inferior to N95 respirators for protecting health care workers against influenza."
(JAMA. 2009;302: (doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1466. Available online at www.jamamedia.org)
Editor's Note: This study was supported by the Public Health Agency of Canada. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.
Editorial: Respiratory Protection Against Influenza
In an accompanying editorial, Arjun Srinivasan, M.D., from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, and Trish M. Perl, M.D., M.Sc., from the School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, write: "The 2009 influenza A(H1N1) pandemic has revived debate about the role of respiratory protection in preventing th
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