Monthly Archives: June 2013

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.

New Study: Universal Paid Sick Leave Reduces Spread of Flu

The researchers simulated an influenza epidemic in Pittsburgh and surrounding Allegheny County. The results of the study are reported in the American Journal of Public Health.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people with flu stay home for 24 hours after their fever breaks,” said lead author Supriya Kumar, Ph.D., M.P.H., a post-doctoral associate in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology. “However, not everyone is able to follow these guidelines. Many more workers in small workplaces than in large ones lack access to paid sick days and hence find it difficult to stay home when ill. Our simulations show that allowing all workers access to paid sick days would reduce illness because fewer workers get the flu over the course of the season if employees are able to stay home and keep the virus from being transmitted to their co-workers.”


31st MERS Coronavirus Fatality Reported in Saudi Arabia

The WHO has also reported laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS-CoV originating in Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

The virus has appeared in France, Germany, Italy, Tunisia, and the United Kingdom as well, but the patients were either transferred there for care, or returned from the Middle East and subsequently became ill. In France, Italy, Tunisia and the United Kingdom, there has been limited local transmission among patients who have not been to the Middle East but have been in close contact with laboratory-confirmed or probable cases.