Aug 5, 2009Use of hand hygiene and masks may slow flu spread in householdsIn a Hong Kong study, the use of hand hygiene and surgical face masks seemed to reduce flu transmission in households when started within 36 hours after the index patient’s first symptoms, according to a report in the Annals of Internal Medicine published ahead of print. The study involved 407 people who sought treatment for flu-like illness and 794 household members. The households were divided into three groups—control, hand hygiene only, and hand hygiene plus face masks. Sixty household contacts of the patients had lab-confirmed flu within 7 days after the intervention. Hand hygiene with or without masks seemed to reduce transmission, but the differences were not statistically significant. However, a significant reduction (adjusted odds ratio, 0.33; 95% confidence interval, 0.13 to 0.87) was seen in households where the two interventions were started within 36 hours after the first patient became ill.[Oct 6 Ann Intern Med report]Pneumonic plague kills three, sickens nine more in Chinese townThree people have died of pneumonic plague and nine more have the often-deadly disease in the town of Ziketan in China’s Qinghai province, the Associated Press (AP) reported. One of the surviving patients was described as being near death, one was in serious condition, and the others were stable, the report said. Police have set up check points to seal off the town of 10,000, located about 300 miles west of Beijing. The outbreak was detected Jul 30. The report said most of the sick people are relatives of the first victim, a 32-year-old herdsman who fell ill after burying his dog.