Ostrich antibodies on your flu mask? It's more likely than you think - at least, in Japan where mask-wearing during the current H1N1 Swine Flu scare is at an all-time high. The new flu-preventing surgical masks are manufactured by Ostrich Pharma Corp. of Kyoto, Japan.
Over 12 million of the ostrich antibody coated surgical masks have been sold since last summer... 12 million! Ostrich Pharma produces 1.6 kilograms of ostrich egg-derived antibodies each month, which translates into 32 million masks if they use their complete stock.
Why ostriches, you might ask? According to Yasuhiro Tsukamoto (above), a veterinary professor at Kyoto Prefectural University who owns Ostrich Pharma Corp., "I discovered ostriches have a stronger immune system against many infectious diseases among birds."
Speaking from his 500-ostrich farm near the city of Kobe, Tsukamoto explained that "The ostrich-based antibodies envelop viruses that come in contact with the mask and disable the germs so that a wearer won't get the flu."
Tsukamoto tested his antibody-coated flu masks by using the material as a filter on one box of chicks while a second box of chicks had no filter. After 4 days, 50 percent of the chicks in the unfiltered box had died from avian flu while all those in the filtered box remained alive and well.
With the UN's World Health Organization on the verge of raising the H1N1 influenza planning alert level to 6, or "full pandemic phase", demand for Ostrich Pharma's ostrich antibody surgical masks will likely increase.
Though many retail stores are sold out, ostrich antibody flu masks can be still ordered online from Rakuten and Amazon Japan.
Current prices are 8,400 yen (about $88) for a box of 36 white "surgical type" masks and 6,300 yen (about $66) per box of 20 pale green "DS" masks. (via Degenerasian and Bloomberg News, main image via Yersys)