Face Mask Use and Control of Respiratory Virus Transmission in Households

Emerg Infect Dis. 2009 Feb;15(2):233-41. doi: 10.3201/eid1502.081167.

Abstract

Many countries are stockpiling face masks for use as a nonpharmaceutical intervention to control virus transmission during an influenza pandemic. We conducted a prospective cluster-randomized trial comparing surgical masks, non-fit-tested P2 masks, and no masks in prevention of influenza-like illness (ILI) in households. Mask use adherence was self-reported. During the 2006 and 2007 winter seasons, 286 exposed adults from 143 households who had been exposed to a child with clinical respiratory illness were recruited. We found that adherence to mask use significantly reduced the risk for ILI-associated infection, but <50% of participants wore masks most of the time. We concluded that household use of face masks is associated with low adherence and is ineffective for controlling seasonal respiratory disease. However, during a severe pandemic when use of face masks might be greater, pandemic transmission in households could be reduced.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Family Characteristics*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control*
  • Influenza, Human / virology
  • Masks / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / prevention & control*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology
  • Seasons
  • Treatment Outcome