Small RCT in 1981 showed masking did not prevent RSV among medical personnel

Murphy D, Todd JK, Chao RK, Orr I, McIntosh K. The use of gowns and masks to control respiratory illness in pediatric hospital personnel. J Pediatr. 1981 Nov;99(5):746-50. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(81)80401-5. PMID: 7299552; PMCID: PMC7173004.

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Key points, verbatim, and in a Table:

“All nursing, medical, and respiratory therapy personnel were solicited to participate in the study; 58 of the 70 available individuals participated and completed the study. Individuals were randomly assigned to either a handwashing alone or handwashing, gowning and masking group.”

“There were four proven RSV infections in the H [hand washing] group and five in the HG&M [hand washing, gown, & mask] groups.”

“We recommend that, whenever possible, older, more experienced staff should care for children at high risk of severe respiratory viral illness, and that gown and mask should not be used in an attempt to prevent personnel illness in wards with a high density of acute respiratory infections. The utility of gown and mask in preventing spread to other infants, of other barriers such as gloves or goggles, and of cohorting of personnel remains to be proven.”

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