Jpn. J. Infect. Dis., 59 (3), 179-181, 2006

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Short Communication

Masks for Influenza Patients: Measurement of Airflow from the Mouth

Sakae Inouye*, Yasuaki Matsudaira1 and Yoshibumi Sugihara2

Public Health Research Unit, Otsuma Women's University, Tokyo 102-8357; 1Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Technology, Tokyo 191-0065; and 2Nikken Sekkei Ltd., Tokyo 102-8117, Japan

(Received January 30, 2006. Accepted March 1, 2006)

*Corresponding author: Mailing address: Public Health Research Unit, Otsuma Women's University, Sanban-cho 12, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-8357, Japan. Tel/Fax: +81-3-5275-6176C E-mail:

SUMMARY: In case of a new influenza pandemic, provision of masks to coughing patients could be used to slow expansion of the epidemic. To quantitatively assess the efficacy of different masks, we used an ultrasonic anemometer to measure the velocity of airflow from the mouth in coughing. We found that even the cheapest paper masks reduced the airspeed to less than 1/10, implicating their effectiveness in decreasing viral spread. We therefore propose that governments provide free masks to coughing patients in the general population upon the emergence of a new human influenza virus.

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