Epidemiology and Infection

Respiratory viruses

Facemasks and intensified hand hygiene in a German household trial during the 2009/2010 influenza A(H1N1) pandemic: adherence and tolerability in children and adults

T. SUESSa1 c1, C. REMSCHMIDTa1, S. SCHINKa1, M. LUCHTENBERGa1, W. HAASa1, G. KRAUSEa1 and U. BUCHHOLZa1

a1 Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Robert Koch Institute, Berlin, Germany

SUMMARY

Non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) such as facemasks and intensified hand hygiene may be effective in preventing influenza infections in households. It may be equally important that household members, especially children, can learn to use, maintain and tolerate these measures. We monitored adherence and tolerability of these NPI within a cluster-randomized trial in households with influenza index patients. We recruited 147 participants in 41 households, 39 (95%) out of 41 index patients were children (aged <14 years). In households assigned to wear facemasks, their use peaked on day 4 after symptom onset of the index patient at 73% and at 65% for children and adults, respectively. Mean daily frequency of hand disinfection in households assigned to intensified hand hygiene measures peaked at 7·7 (day 6) for children and at 10·1 (day 5) for adults. The majority of participants reported no problems with mask wearing. Data suggest that usage of NPI can be taught and that measures are well tolerated by adults and even sick children alike.

(Accepted December 08 2010)

(Online publication January 07 2011)

Correspondence:

c1 Author for correspondence: Dr T. Suess, Robert Koch Institute, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, FG 36, DGZ-Ring 1, 13086 Berlin, Germany. (Email: SuessT@rki.de)

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