They are armed and dangerous. They can be lurking anywhere. Americans must be on guard and braced for an attack at any time.
I’m sounding an alarm about all of the biological terrorists about. I’m talking about all of the people who at this time of the year … are sneezing.
In this season of the cold and flu here’s a warning. They’re telling us now that sneezes can travel up to 100 miles per hour, and someone’s germ-ladened nasal clearing can reach you from up to 26 feet away.
So think of that the next time you’re in a Walmart crowd. Hear one sneeze and you’re toast.
And Homeland Security can’t do a thing to protect you.
The good folks at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology thought they’d record slow-motion videos of sneezes, and what they learned is nothing to sneeze at. They thought they’d just confirm the common notion that a sneeze travels only a short distance — a couple of feet, perhaps.
“The smaller and evaporating droplets” in a sneeze, wrote lead MIT researcher Lydia Bourouiba in the New England Journal of Medicine, “are trapped in the turbulent puff cloud, remain suspended, and, over the course of seconds to a few minutes, can travel the dimensions of a room and land up to [19 to 26 feet] away.”
And you thought the terrorists could never win.
“You can’t scamper. It’s over before you can move,” one researcher said.
My reign of terror came in November. I stayed in bed one day with a cold, then I was up and at ‘em the next day. I felt fine.
But my live-in nurse would have nothing to do with me for a week.
“Come ‘ere and give me a big hug,” I romantically propositioned.
“Get away from me. You have a cold,” as she ran not walked toward a back room.
“I’m over it,” I protested.
Nothing doing. I had a loaded bazooka ready to fire a 26-foot puff cloud of germy terrorists.
She didn’t catch my cold.
The MIT sneeze scientists put the burden squarely on the sick and the allergy sufferer. Stay three feet away from people, the health experts now say, if you’re not feeling well yet insist on getting out and about.
They taught us kids back in the day to cover our mouths with our hands when we felt a sneeze coming on. That’s no longer good enough.
When you do that you’re just lathering up your hand with an army of germy terrorists who’re ready to bunker down onto any keyboards, pens and doorknobs you touch. The terrorists will not have long to wait until another poor soul comes along unaware.
Health professionals now say that if you don’t have a tissue handy, don’t sneeze into your hand but instead sneeze into the crook of your elbow.
So Cam Newton, the flamboyant Carolina Panthers quarterback, was not showboating all of those times when he’d do a dab — putting his face into the crook of an elbow — after a touchdown.
Instead, Cam was just taking a pause to teach all of us good football fans good hygiene.
After all, if Cam doesn’t dab, the terrorists win.
Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.