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That strep outbreak among schoolchildren in Michigan. Could it be due to MASKS? A letter urges health officials there to think about it.

From Dick Atlee:

Hello, Superintendent McMillan,

I heard about the strep outbreak in your schools from

https://www.abc12.com/app/2020/10/02/health-department-investigating-after-high-number-of-strep-throat-cases-at-shepherd-schools/

in which Dr. Morse of the state Health Department referred to the situation as “strange” and “under investigation.”

I understand that the current school-mask situation mandated by the governor makes the situation difficult, but I’m wondering if consideration is being given to those masks as a driver of the growing strep problem. The fact that the problem seems to be more prevalent in the elementary school would tend to support that possibility, given the clear evidence that young children don’t know how to — and can’t reasonably be expected to — safely use masks.

The research literature on masks with respect to viral particles (primarily influenza) is quite mixed on their efficacy. The literature on medical masks in an operating room environment seems fairly clear that masks don’t have a statistically significant effect on post-clean-surgery wound infection. But to the extent that bacteria are orders of magnitude larger than viruses, it seems likely that any that come to contaminate the inside of a mask would create a serious rebreathing accelerant for the child wearing the mask, whereas otherwise the bacteria would be dispersed and diluted in the environment.

In terms of relative health risk, SARS-Cov-2 has over many months been shown to be of little health significance to young kids, whereas strep is a known significant danger.

Has any thought been given to masks as a vector in this situation?

Dick Atlee
Southwest Harbor, ME

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