Surgical face masks are the next best thing to vaccinations, so those down with Flu, this winter, are being goaded to sport a mask, especially in crowded areas and while using the public transport, in order to contain the spread of infectious disease.
The New South Wales Department of Health initiated a public awareness drive to help restrain the spread of influenza and thwart a potential pandemic. The health department had also laid out certain precautions that include getting immunized, washing your hands with soap and water regularly, and wearing a mask for those already suffering from the flu.
The department's communicable disease director, Dr.Jeremy McAnulty, explained how the flu spreads through water droplets from coughs and sneezes, which have the potential to traverse a meters distance. Masks actually stop this movement in its tracks, trapping them inside, so it is specially recommended for people already down with flu and are visiting other crowded places.
"Wearing a face mask is something we haven't talked about in the past although it has been talked about in reference to how we might combat the flu," said Dr McAnulty . Though, he did confess that wearing a mask in Australia was something of a strict no-no. In Dr.McAnulty's words, "It's something that people haven't really taken to to-date, although in some countries like Japan and parts of Asia it's much more culturally acceptable. It was used in Australia in 1919 when they had the pandemic after World War I and there is some evidence that after the outbreak of SARS in Hong Kong that they worked in reducing the disease."
Immunization still remains the number one strategy against flu, says Dr McAnulty, "Anyone who wants to avoid getting sick should get an influenza vaccination now," he said. Immunization should be top priority for those who are above 65 and those people with hidden medical conditions.