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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Johns Hopkins: Face Masks May Protect Hog Farm Workers and Their Household Members From Staph Bacteria

Face masks appear to provide important protection against drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria for hog farm workers and for household members to whom they might otherwise transmit the bacteria, according to a study led by scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

In the study, published Dec. 13 in Environmental Health Perspectives, the scientists tracked 101 hog farm workers and 79 household members for four months, taking nasal swabs and asking questions about face mask use. They found that for workers who reported using face masks on the job consistently during the four-month study, there was a 50 to 70 percent reduction in the likelihood of finding dangerous, livestock-derived S. aureus strains in their swabs — and an 80 to 90 percent reduction in the likelihood that household members’ swabs would test positive for such strains.

“Face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) could be effective in reducing occupational exposure to livestock-associated S. aureus and preventing the spread of these bacteria to workers and their families,” says study senior author Dr. Christopher D. Heaney, an associate professor in the department of environmental health and engineering at the Bloomberg School.

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