Cloth surgical masks won’t help with Valley Fever. In endemic areas the microscopic spores are blown from the soil and into the air, not transmitted like influenza through airborne droplet splashes from sneezes. Consideration of harsh facts like the toxic side effects of antifungal medication, poor quality testing methods, the possibility of reactivation, and inadequate awareness among the doctors charged with protecting and diagnosing patients is important. It is an ongoing struggle to get these aspects of Valley Fever known and publicized.
Are facts unknown or ignored in other parts of health care? The COVID-19 crisis shows the answer is yes.
SEATTLE (KOMO) – Surgical masks are in short supply right now. People are buying them in the mistaken belief that a mask will protect them against the coronavirus. “There’s no good reason to use these masks except psychologically you think you’re doing something,” said Dr. John Swartzberg, an expert on infectious diseases at UC Berkeley.
The Surgeon General had a similar comment:
“Seriously people,” he began, and though it’s a tweet, you can almost hear the exasperation in his plea. “STOP BUYING MASKS!”
“They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus”
Cloth masks are not considered protective equipment, but were tested in a medical simulation to see how protective they might be against a flu virus. As expected, viral particles got through. The masks did, however, reduce the level of infectious influenza particles through the mask typically by one sixth, and even in one test up to one fifty-fifth.
Inhaling more viral particles can mean a more severe infection or greater likelihood of infection. A mask that reduces the viral load could mean the viral material that gets through does not cause an infection. Or it could mean the reduced presence of the virus that makes the difference between becoming an asymptomatic carrier of the disease and a fatality. The difference between life and death.
Incidentally the cloth mask study was published in 2013 but did not inform the initial 2020 suggestions for the general public to disregard masks. I could find no evidence this study was even considered for public recommendations.
The stories of Valley Fever and the coronavirus are tightly connected in a very important way: The useful information is out there but sometimes not known or acknowledged by the people in charge.
Source and image credit: CDC says surgical masks won’t protect you from the coronavirus | KOMO 4 news
The surgeon general wants Americans to stop buying face masks | CNN
Makison Booth C, Clayton M, Crook B, Gawn JM. Effectiveness of surgical masks against influenza bioaerosols. J Hosp Infect. 2013 May;84(1):22-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2013.02.007.