Your Sneeze Traveled How Far?!

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Coughing into elbow (credit: Dr. Dave Hnida)

Coughing into elbow (credit: Dr. Dave Hnida)

Dr. Dave Hnida By Dr. Dave Hnida
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Okay, you’ve got to be quick on the draw and get that tissue up fast the next time your nose erupts! Or, that crook of the elbow to your mouth the next time a cough volcanos out of your lungs!

New research says uninhibited sneezes and coughs travel a lot farther than we ever thought.

How far? Let’s put it this way. the next time a co-worker sneezes or coughs way across the room, it’s time to run for cover. Or … hold your breath for an hour.

For that matter, a cough or sneeze on another floor in your building may still hunt you down.

Here’s the deal as you really get grossed out and super paranoid about sick people hanging out in the same zip code as you.

When someone sneezes or coughs, there are these big, fat, disgusting droplets that you can see or feel. They don’t travel that far — maybe 8-10 feet or so.

But then — there’s the newly discovered VAPOR CLOUD. Invisible to the naked eye but just as infectious. Super small particles that can travel hundreds of feet — even being sucked up into ceiling ventilation systems where they can take a pleasure flight throughout a building — and land on you.

Sounds like science fiction. But researchers using super high-speed cameras and laser imaging actually measured the long journeys infectious particles can take. And this research comes out of MIT, so you know it’s a bunch of smart people talking about it.

Some other snivelling factoids:

The average cough travels 39-50 mph and releases 3,000 droplets.

The average cough breaks the speed limit at 98-150 mph, and releases 40,000 droplets.

Whoa …

Bottom line: Use a tissue. Cover your mouth.

Don’t get on a plane if you’re sick. Don’t come to work. Don’t send your kid to school. Stay out of public. Isolate yourself.

Have mercy on the healthy public.

Thank you.

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