Cold and flu season are here and epidemic in many states. WE are advised by health officials to wash our hands, use hand sanitizers, cover our coughs or cough into our sleeves. They suggest we not shake hands but bump elbows or greet others without touching them. The practice of bowing to one another or as in prayer like the Thais are
ways to acknowledge others in alternatively.
The Japanese also use surgical masks as a preventive against airborne diseases. We have observed them in crowds or on the airplanes wearing surgical masks. At first we wondered about that practice, but when we visited Japan, learned that it is their consideration of others as a cultural practice not to spread germs or to prevent from catching them. It is a practice that is acceptable among school children as well as among adults; we saw kids on outings and adults wearing business suits and no one stared at them. They appeared to be unselfconscious about that while we would not think of doing the same in the United States for fear of derision or the object of stares.
Although I did not find statistics about the effectiveness of wearing surgical masks by ordinary persons who aren’t doctors or dentist or those in health professions who are in close contact with patients, a 2008 study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases of a study group of persons who wore surgical masks stated an 80% reduction in catching diseases
Thus I think wearing surgical masks is probably an effective way to prevent the spreading of colds and flu viruses.
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