Debate on MERS-CoV Respiratory Precautions Surgical Mask or N95 Respirators
Chung, S.J., Ling, M.L., Seto, W.H. et al. (2014). Debate on MERS-CoV Respiratory Precautions: Surgical Mask or N95 Respirators? Singapore Medical Journal. 55(6):294-7.
The authors summarize a debate among infectious disease practitioners in Singapore regarding whether surgical masks or N-95 respirators should be recommended for health care workers caring for patients with MERS-CoV. They conclude that the evidence supports MERS-CoV being transmitted through droplets, except for aerosol-generating procedures, and so surgical masks are sufficient. They contend that it is more protective for health care workers to consistently wear surgical masks, than inconsistently wear N-95s. N-95 masks have previously been found to be uncomfortable and cause headaches and impaired mental function in health care workers after prolonged use. (Note that the CDC recommends N95s be used for suspect MERS-CoV in the U.S.)