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Don't share the air.

Don't share the air

Scientific studies in the past have pointed to skin contact as the prime mode of transmission of the common cold. But in research by Elliot Dick at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, marathon poker games between healthy players and sniffling, sneezing ones gave an indication that airborne particles play a significant role in passing the infection.

In one experiment, half of the healthy players wore large, sun-reflector-style collars to keep them from passing germs picked up from cards or pencils to their eyes, noses or mouths. Five out of six of these players caught colds, says Dick. Results from two other experiments, in which the healthy players wore restraining arm braces (to prevent them from touching their faces) were much less clear: Four caught cold in the third poker session, but only one got sick in the second.

A final session, immediately following the third, tested infection when there could be no aerosol transmission. In a different room, 12 healthy players used the contaminated cards, chips and pencils from the previous game. Once each hour, freshly contaminated materials were brought in. None of these players caught colds. "The combination of the relatively equal attack rate between the aerosol and [hand-to-hand] transmission," Dick says, "and the complete lack of transmission in...a potentially massive contamination with cards suggests to us that the aerosol route may be very important."
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Title Annotation:role of airborne particles in transmission of common cold
Author:Davis, Lisa
Publication:Science News
Date:Apr 5, 1986
Words:232
Previous Article:Common denominator for common cold.
Next Article:Genes (and proteins) in the bank.
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