Thursday, June 15, 2006

Expert: mask made from T-Shirts could help stop bird flu virus,

U.S. researchers said on Wednesday they had come up with one low-tech answer to widespread shortages of medical equipment in the fight against the bird flu virus-- a mask made out of a T-shirt.

“A simple, locally made, washable mask may be a solution if commercial masks are not available,” Virginia Dato, David Hostler and Michael Hahn wrote in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

A cotton T-shirt “was boiled for 10 minutes and air-dried to maximize shrinkage and sterilize the material in a manner available in developing countries,” they wrote.

They cut it into nine pieces and fashioned a mask that had several layers of cotton over the nose and mouth and tied behind the head.

Such a mask is a poor defense against the bird flu virus, except perhaps when used by trained health care workers, Dato said in a telephone interview.

“If it’s really needed, you actually have the mask on and you are next to somebody who has influenza, then that mask is catching influenza droplets. So then when you are done with it, it is really contaminated,” she said.

“It has to be appropriately washed, cleaned maybe with some bleach. It is somewhat like a dirty diaper (but) at least a dirty diaper that has poop in it, you can see that it is contaminated and you don’t put it in your pocketbook.”

It would be dangerous to put such a mask on a person sick with the avian influenza virus, because they are already struggling to breathe and the mask could make it worse.

Another danger is “being overconfident—putting on a mask and thinking you are invincible,” added Dato.

Avian influenza story link

Posted by john T. on 06/15 at 05:30 AM
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