800 Mil­lion Viruses a Day Are Launched Into the Sky

Trillions - - Content -

A new re­search study has in­di­cated the vast num­ber of viruses swirling around the at­mos­phere. This new dis­cov­ery turns the con­ven­tional be­lief about the spread of dis­ease on its head and raises another alarm for the spread of new pathogens cre­ated by glyphosate and other Dna-dam­ag­ing chem­i­cals sprayed on farm fields.

In a new pa­per pub­lished re­cently in the In­ter­na­tional So­ci­ety for Mi­cro­bial Ecol­ogy Jour­nal, the au­thors de­scribe how viruses are pro­pelled up from the ground into the tro­po­sphere, the at­mo­spheric layer near the ground and stretch­ing up to the strato­sphere, where air­craft typ­i­cally fly. It also showed how those same viruses can then be car­ried thou­sands of kilo­me­ters through the air be­fore even­tu­ally be­ing re-de­posited on the ground.

The viruses (as well as bac­te­ria) are kicked up into the air on small par­ti­cles of soil dust and sea spray. Af­ter be­com­ing air­borne, they can move far and fast, pro­vided they are in light enough clus­ters.

The au­thors of the study, in­clud­ing se­nior au­thor Cur­tis Sut­tle, a Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia vi­rol­o­gist, and his col­leagues at the Univer­sity of Granada in Spain and San Diego State Univer­sity, be­gan the re­search with the goal of un­der­stand­ing how much virus ma­te­rial was be­ing lifted up over the at­mo­spheric bound­ary layer ap­prox­i­mately 2,500 to 3,000 me­ters (1,550 to 1,864 miles) above the Earth. In that area, par­ti­cles can eas­ily be trans­ported thou­sands of me­ters and more through the air, un­like at lo­ca­tions closer to the Earth’s sur­face.

The au­thors did their re­search by mea­sur­ing virus con­tent in the air high up in Spain’s Sierra Ne­vada Moun­tains. There, they found that lit­er­ally bil­lions of viruses and tens of mil­lions of bac­te­ria were be­ing de­posited on the ground per square me­ter per day. Viruses in par­tic­u­lar were com­ing down at de­posit rates be­tween 9 and 461 times greater than for bac­te­ria.

To put it more in per­spec­tive, Sut­tle said, “Ev­ery day, more than 800 mil­lion viruses are de­posited per square me­ter above the plan­e­tary bound­ary layer – that’s 25 viruses for each per­son in Canada.”

That is a lot of viruses, but more im­por­tant still is re­al­iz­ing how far the viruses can travel. As Sut­tle noted, “Roughly 20 years ago we be­gan find­ing ge­net­i­cally sim­i­lar viruses oc­cur­ring in very dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ments around the globe. This pre­pon­der­ance of long-res­i­dence viruses trav­el­ing the at­mos­phere likely ex­plains why – it’s quite con­ceiv­able to have a virus swept up into the at­mos­phere on one con­ti­nent and de­posited on another.”

Another au­thor of the pa­per, mi­cro­bial ecol­o­gist Is­abel Reche from the Univer­sity of Granada, said about the trans­port process: “Bac­te­ria and viruses are typ­i­cally de­posited back to Earth via rain events and Sa­ha­ran dust in­tru­sions. How­ever, the rain was less ef­fi­cient re­mov­ing viruses from the at­mos­phere.”

Sea spray, in fact, was de­ter­mined to be the pri­mary means by which the viruses had been car­ried up into the air, based on bi­o­log­i­cal sig­na­tures at­tached to the viruses af­ter they were re-de­posited.

With such a vast num­ber of viruses mak­ing their way into the sky, trav­el­ing lit­er­ally from con­ti­nent to con­ti­nent and then com­ing back down to the Earth, it is no sur­prise that viruses with iden­ti­cal ge­netic make­ups can prop­a­gate quickly across the planet. Even more im­por­tant still is the sheer num­ber of viruses that are be­ing swept up, trans­ported and then re-de­posited ev­ery sin­gle day.

This dis­cov­ery helps ex­plain the rapid spread of new strains of in­fluenza and other vi­ral in­fec­tions.

Com­bined with the num­ber of viruses that come from space, the vi­ral on­slaught will only con­tinue till hu­mans live in a sealed en­vi­ron­ment.

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