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Wind can spread microbes and diseases around the world

Concerns have been raised about the great distances microbes are able to ‘blow around the world, as its thoughts it could the perfect opportunity...

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|Aug 19|magazine5 min read

Concerns have been raised about the great distances microbes are able to ‘blow’ around the world, as its thoughts it could the perfect opportunity for diseases to spread.

Scientists from the UK and Switzerland conducted a research study into the travel paths of microbes, looking at how widely they could be spread by wind.

They study found that microbes were able to travel thousands of kilometres, from South America to Australia.

One of the researchers, Dave Wilkinson, commented: “Microbes less than 0.009 mm across went as far as Australia

“These sizes would include microbes such as bacteria and many amoebae and also some fungal spores.”

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Previous outbreaks of foot and mouth disease and meningitis have been lined to airborne viruses, although the researchers noted most microbes that are transported by the wind are harmless.

Wilkinson believes further research in this area is needed: “Given the ease with which the smaller microbes disperse in our model it is possible that this may be the rate-limiting step in many cases of microbial range expansion and this topic should form the topic for future research in this area.”

The results of the study have been published in the Journal of Biogeography.