The agent of Kawasaki disease, a potentially fatal illness in children, floats into Japan on seasonal winds from northeastern China, according to a report. (National Geographic News)
Use our resources to learn more about winds and wind patterns.
- Read through the brief discussion of “wind zones” in our encyclopedic entry on wind. What wind zone do researchers suspect of carrying the pathogen for Kawasaki disease from northeastern China to Japan?
- Probably westerlies. Westerlies are steady, predictable, prevailing winds that blow from the west at midlatitudes. The NASA pollution photo above is a beautiful illustration of a classic northeastern flow of a Northern Hemisphere westerly.
- Researchers think that winds from China may be spreading the mysterious Kawasaki disease pathogen (most likely a Candida fungus) to Japan. What other particles can wind transport? Take a look through the images in our “wind” encyclopedic entry for some help.
- Winds can carry a wide variety of particles: water droplets, sand, dust, volcanic ash, and air pollution such as fertilizer and vehicle exhaust.
- Residents of China, the Koreas, and Japan may be at high risk for Kawasaki disease if, as researchers suspect, the “source” for the pathogen is the remote farmland of northeastern China. (It might not be—correlation is not causation.) What other nations or regions might be at risk? Take a look at our MapMaker Interactive for some help.
- If the pathogen is airborne from a source in northeastern China, regions in eastern Mongolia and Russia may also be at high risk.
- Startlingly, the pathogen may not only be carried by tropospheric winds such as westerlies and trade winds, but also high-atmosphere winds such as jet streams. This would allow the pathogens to actually cross the Pacific and put Hawaii and even inland North America at risk.
One thought on “Heart Disease is Blowing in the Wind”
I find that scary it’s a bit like a biological weapon.