Mask is one of the precaution methods against swine flu or H1N1. But are you safe with mask you use or buy? Before you buy a mask against H1N1, know following things.
- Masks are very inconvenient. There is also the problem of disposal, as people tend to just throw them by the roadside.
- Everyone using one-time-use masks should dispose of them properly otherwise they are being re-sold to unsuspecting customers.
- Since re-using masks could pose serious health problems, people can also use clean handkerchiefs instead.
- There is a huge danger of ragpickers and cleaners picking up used masks and reselling them.
- Doctors strictly have advised citizens against the use of masks sold by hawkers or at traffic signals. It is advisable to buy the masks only from a good chemist shop. Be careful of what you buy and where you buy it from.
People most at risk are children under five, elderly people with chronic heart, lung or kidney ailments, and those with immunosuppression problems due to treatment or disease.
- Surgical mask: (Rs10-25) Prevents viruses that are more than 4 microns in diameter, like the influenza virus which causes the common cold, from passing through.
- Paper mask: (Rs2-6) Will let anything with a diameter less than 5 microns to pass through.
- N-95: (Rs100-450)Highly effective. Particles above 0.3 micron cannot pass through. WHO-recommended.
- Is the swine flu virus air borne?
The swine flu virus is not air borne. It does not spread through air. Swine flu transmits through droplets when someone sneezes directly on you or when you touch object on which the droplets have fallen and then touch your face.
- Does a mask protect you from swine flu?
No. As per the WHO, a mask is not going to help you protect from swine flu. Since the virus is not airborne, a mask really does not help. However you need a mask if you are caring for a sick person. Ensure that you dispose it off immediately after use and WASH YOUR HANDS THOROUGHLY.
- How long can the swine flu virus be viable on objects such as books, remote controls and door knobs?
2 – 8 Hours. Studies have shown that the swine flu virus can survive on environmental surfaces and can infect a person for up to 2-8 hours after being deposited on the surface. It is important to sanitize (wash) your hands thoroughly after using or touching objects accessible to others. Remember any object – keyboards, plates, telephones are all suspects!
- I can get tested for Swine Flu at any of the big hospitals?
No. The government has identified hospitals and laboratories that are certified for testing swine flu. Only a few hospitals are authorized to take swab samples. Please see List of testing centers in India for the authorized testing center, contact number and person name in your area to contact.
- Can pregnant women take swine flu medicines?
Pregnant women are at high risk for complications from seasonal flu, and cases of confirmed novel (H1N1) influenza virus infection in pregnant women resulting in severe disease have been reported. No clinical studies have so far been conducted to assess the safety of oseltamivir and zamivir (antivirals for swine flu) for pregnant women. A few adverse effects have been reported in pregnant women who took these drugs but no relation between the use of these medications and those adverse events has been established. Pregnancy is not considered a contraindication to oseltamivir or zanamivir use. Oseltamivir is preferred for treatment of pregnant women because of its systemic activity. However, no one should take these medicines unless prescribed and this applies to pregnant women as well.
Disclaimer: The article contains data collected from various sources and the use of same is at readers discretion.
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