Interim Public Health Guidance for the Use of Facemasks and Respirators in Non-Occupational Community Settings during an Influenza Pandemic [open pdf - 116KB]
"This document describes interim guidance for the use of facemasks and respirators in certain public settings during an influenza pandemic. Very little information is available about the effectiveness of facemasks and respirators in controlling the spread of pandemic influenza in community settings. In the absence of scientific data, this document offers interim recommendations that are based on public health judgment and on the historical use of facemasks and respirators in other settings. In brief, these interim recommendations advise the following: (1) Whenever possible, rather than relying on the use of facemasks or respirators, close contact and crowded conditions should be avoided during an influenza pandemic. (2) Facemasks should be considered for use by individuals who enter crowded settings, both to protect their nose and mouth from other people's coughs and to reduce the wearers' likelihood of coughing on others. The time spent in crowded settings should be as short as possible. (3) Respirators should be considered for use by individuals for whom close contact with an infectious person is unavoidable. This can include selected individuals who must take care of a sick person (e.g., family member with a respiratory infection) at home. Facemasks and respirators should be used in combination with other preventive measures, such as hand hygiene and social distancing, to help reduce the risk for influenza infection during a pandemic. This interim guidance will be updated as new information becomes available."
United States Department of Health and Human Services: http://www.hhs.gov/