H1N1 Lurking Behind the Halloween Mask

October 22, 2009 12:05:19 AM PDT
With Halloween just ten days away, health experts say there's another way you can get the flu that you may not have thought about.If you've ever tried on a Halloween mask-- you know how quickly it becomes a warm, damp environment. Doctors say if someone with the H1N1 virus sneezes or coughs into the mask it could mean trouble for those who try it on after them.

Children all over the Valley are drying to see who can be scariest this Halloween season. But this year with the Swine Flu spreading-- health experts say children and parents should take precautions while doing something seemingly harmless-- trying on a Halloween mask-- someone else may have worn.

Dr. David Pugatch, an infectious disease physician at Children's Hospital Central California -- says the risk of getting the flu from trying on a mask depends on several factors. How long the infected person before you wore the mask-- how much of the virus is inside, and how much of the mask actually touches your face.

"If a person or child touches those areas then touches their face, touches their eyes then the influenza can enter their bodies through that route," said Dr. Pugatch.

Ken Boesch General Manager at Party City says saying crew members try to spray masks with a disinfectant at the end of the day, but during shopping hours there are lots of customers trying on merchandise.

Boesch said, "We do our best to try to mitigate any kind of risks but it is up to the consumer to make sure they are informed taking care of themselves and being safe."

As an added safety precaution, physicians suggest not wearing a mask at all. Instead they say choose a costume that keeps your face totally uncovered.

Doctors say if your child is feeling sick-- they need to stay home and skip going out for Halloween this year.



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