Physical Interventions to Interrupt or Reduce the Spread of Respiratory Viruses: Systematic Review   [open pdf - 0B]

From the Introduction: "Epidemic and pandemic new viral infections pose a serious threat worldwide. Several have occurred recently, including the current H1N1 pandemic influenza and the coronavirus outbreak that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Even non-epidemic acute respiratory tract infections place a serious burden on health and healthcare systems. Overall, epidemics account for most of the 7% of total deaths from respiratory tract infections in the world. Our 2007 Cochrane review showed that physical interventions (personal hygiene, barriers, and distancing) are highly effective. However, the current mainstay of pandemic interventions still seems to be vaccines and antiviral drugs, with no evidence supporting their widespread use, especially against a seemingly mild threat such as the novel H1N1 virus. For example, in the most recent guidance document on planning for pandemic influenza from the World Health Organization, handwashing and masks were mentioned only twice and gloves and gowns once each, but vaccines and antivirals were cited 24 and 18 times, respectively."

BMJ Publishing Group
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