Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sneezing, bacteria, and stuff I wish I didn't know

My wife and kids have allergies. This is not unusual, as well over 1/3rd of Americans have allergies.[1] It seemed a bit worse this year, and maybe I wasn't just imagining it. Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic recorded the second-highest daily pollen count since measuring began in 1995. [3] Pets are a known cause of allergies, and my old (now dead) cat, "Meowie", could get me sneezing after a good tussling. We do have a weiner dog, so maybe that's the cause. Apparently there are some allergy body suits you can put on dogs, but they look really stupid if you ask me.

A bit worse than allergies, however, is when one sneezes due to irritation from a bacterial cold. Here's a fact I wish I didn't know:

  • Most of the research shows that a sneeze propels air from your nose at approximately 100 mph, dispersing more than 100,000 bacteria into the air at a range of 2 to 3 yards.[2]

Most of the time, this isn't a worry, since if someone sneezes, the odds are apparently low you'll catch anything. (One is more more likely to get sick from picking up germs on a doorknob then from a sneeze particle in the air.)[2] But suppose you live with someone who is sneezing all the time with a bacterial cold. This means that the bacteriological spew is constantly floating around the room.

Of course I once read a very suprising fact about how germs spread. It was noted by a professor of microbiology at University of Arizona (Tucson). Consider this on your next date:

  • "The bottom of women's purses are pretty bad.... About 25% have fecal bacteria because women put it down on the toilet floor in the restroom.... Encourage your son or daughter to hang their backpack on a hook if they take it to the school restroom."[4]

Doh! Think about that next time the little lady or some kid hands you their stuff.


[picture] (Accessed April 26, 2006)

[1] "Immunotherapy Weekly" NewsRX (Accessed April 26, 2006)

[2] Jessica Golden "What Does Your Sneeze Say About You?" ABC News Online (Accessed April 25th, 2006)

[3] Marc Lallanilla "Achoo! Spring Allergy Season Worst in Years" ABC News Online (Accessed April 25th, 2006)

[4] D. Mann "Germs in the School Room" WebMD (Accessed April 26th, 2006).


At 6:56 AM, Anonymous woofmutt said...

And another thing to creep you out: A few years back a Brit study discovered that restroom hot air hand dryers (supposedly more sanitary than paper towels) can actually blow fecal matter all over the place which would of course include onto your hands and into your lungs.


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