Dr Manal Mohammed, who teaches Microbiology, wrote an article for The Conversation about whether surgical masks can protect you from getting the flu. The article was republished by The Independent, Inverse and Medical XPress.
In the article, Dr Mohammed debunked the common misconception that surgical masks must protect surgeons, therefore they must also be able to protect the general public from catching the flu. She said: “[Masks are] intended to stop droplets from the surgeon’s mouth or nose getting into the patient’s wound and causing sepsis.
“Despite their use for more than a century, their prophylactic effectiveness is in doubt. Indeed, a recent study showed that surgical masks can be a source of bacterial contamination in the operating theatre.”
She also wrote about a study using specialist masks called an N95 respirator, which is often cited as evidence that surgical masks work.
She added: “The study found that surgical masks were as effective as N95 respirators at preventing the flu, which is to say, not all that effective because, of the 446 nurses who took part in this study, nearly one in four in the surgical mask group still got the flu as did 23% of those who wore the N95 respirator.”
She also discussed ways to avoid catching the flu, and said: “One way you could stop getting the flu is by stopping touching your hand touching your mouth and nose. Aside from inhaling droplets, you can also get the flu from touching anything with the virus on it.”