Something in the Air

“That filtering mechanism, just like the filters in your house, can be overwhelmed to where they don’t work anymore,” said Dr. Jason Sigmon, “And then you’re going to be directly challenged by those things in the environment. Those are the things that we see with patients who typically don’t have lung problems.”

Wearing a mask in areas of heavy debris can be very effective at preventing tornado cough. For public health officials in Oklahoma, their capability to track the number of patients reporting tornado cough symptoms will determine their ability to mitigate such issues in the future.

In related news, a recent article in Popular Science revealed that scientists have discovered billions of bacteria thriving in Earth’s upper atmosphere. The scientists collected samples from the air 33,000 feet above the earth’s surface and discovered that  20 percent of what they had assumed to be just dust or other particles was actually alive.

The researchers found E. coli in the samples, which they believe hurricanes lifted from cities. They plan to investigate whether the bacteria could be making its way into rain water. This news is especially revelatory in light of the SARS-like spread of MERS coronavirus.