Mankind has struggled with many epidemics until now. He suffered many casualties during this struggle. For example, black plague, Spanish flu, SARS, swine flu, ebola and finally codiv-19. Different methods have been followed to combat them. The reason is that the main cause of some is viruses, while the main cause of some is bacteria. However, all of them have a tool in common use. This is called a “mask”. So what do we know about the history of the mask? We will talk about them in our article.
First Mask Attempts
In the period called the modern European period, masks were used to protect from the epidemic in the black plague epidemic. However, these masks look very different from today’s masks. The shape of the mask resembled a bird with a beak. It was thought that the fragrant flowers and leaves put into the mouth part killed the microbe. At that time, such a method was used because it was thought that the disease was transmitted from places that smelled like sewer. However, the black plague epidemic at that time was transmitted by the bite of fleas in mice. Therefore, this mask did not have much protection effect.
The situation that led to the emergence of today’s mask was different. First, Joseph Lister proved that wound diseases are caused by tiny microscopic creatures, as described by Louis Pasteur. He said that they can be prevented by using antiseptic substances. In later studies, it was aimed to prevent these microscopic creatures from entering the body. The event that led to this goal was the finding that respiratory droplets can carry germs, by Jan Mikulicz-Radecki and Carl Flügge, head of the surgical department at the University of Wrocław (Breslau). After that, Jan Mikulicz-Radecki started wearing a mask during a surgical procedure. Surgeon Paul Berger, who was in Paris, started to wear masks in the operating room in the same years. Although there are surgeons who have negative thoughts about masks, the use of masks has constantly increased. It was determined that more than two-thirds of surgeons from 1869 to 1923, and most of them until 1935, used masks.
Public Dissemination of Surgical Masks
The events that led to the use of surgical masks by the public are the Manchurian plague and the influenza epidemic. Although its use in the influenza epidemic is a matter of debate, it was mandatory for police forces, healthcare workers and the public to wear masks in the USA. In some parts of the United States, the decrease in the number of deaths has been attributed to wearing masks. Then the purpose of wearing masks preceded surgical procedures. Now people started to wear masks to protect themselves from diseases. Masks used in this period were generally washed and reused. By the 1930s, masks had turned into disposable paper masks. In the 1960s, masks began to be made from disposable synthetic materials. Since these masks are both more useful and filter the incoming and outgoing air, the level of protection is higher. In the following years, cotton fabric masks and synthetic fabric masks were compared. Although people try to protect themselves with masks, the method of protection against viral diseases is vaccination.