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Facemasks Facemasks are fairly loosely fitting, disposable masks approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use as medical devices. Doctors, dentists, and nurses often wear them while treating patients. These masks prevent large droplets of bodily fluids that may contain viruses from escaping via the nose and mouth. Facemasks also protect against splashes and sprays from others, such as those from sneezes and coughs. The average masks you can buy from a local drugstore aren’t enough to filter out the virus. For that, experts recommend special masks with fine mesh that can capture very small organisms. These also...

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For many years, scientists weren't sure if wearing a mask was effective at preventing the spread of viruses. However, recent studies suggest that they can help. First, a 2008 study published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases concluded that when used correctly, masks are highly effective in preventing the spread of viral infections. Family members of children with flu-like illnesses who used the masks properly were 80 percent less likely to be diagnosed with the illness. Surprisingly, the difference between types of masks used was insignificant. Another study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reported similar results. Researchers looked at 400 people...

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The CDCTrusted Source revised its healthcare setting guidelines for flu prevention to include facemasks and respirators in 2010. They recommend that healthcare workers wear facemasks when working with patients who have the flu. They also suggest offering facemasks to patients who show signs of respiratory infections. Respirators, however, are reserved for healthcare workers to wear during medical procedures. If you’re sick and need to be around others, wearing a surgical mask properly can protect those around you from becoming infected with your illness. Facemasks can help reduce the spread of the flu and other respiratory viruses — but only if they’re worn...

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