Masks dramatically reduce spread of flu, study finds

WASHINGTON – There’s bad news and good news in the flu world.

A study from the University of Maryland School of Public Health has found that the influenza virus is more easily transmitted through the air than previously thought, and not just through direct contact.

The good news, though: If the patient wears a surgical mask, the risk of transmission is dramatically reduced.

“Our study provides new evidence that there is nearly nine times more influenza virus present in the smallest airborne droplets in the breath exhaled from those infected with flu than in the larger droplets that would be expected to carry more virus,” said Dr. Donald Milton, director of the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health, who led the study.

According UMD Right Now, the university’s study is the first to show masks reduce the spread of airborne flu droplets significantly.

More information is available here.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @KateRyanWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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