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Scientist studies how humidity could stop flu spread
For years scientists have tried to better understand the flu. A Mayo Clinic researcher says controlling humidity levels in places like schools could help stop the virus from spreading, and he's putting his theory to the test.
Courtney Sturgeon reports.
At elementary and middle schools everywhere, kids share everything, including germs.
Which is why Tyler Koep, a graduate student at Mayo Clinic, has chosen two schools to be a part of his study on the effects of humidity and virus survival.
"The idea is that higher humidity might protect us from the flu. So, that might be an option we can use in the future to limit the spread of the flu among people,” said Koep.
Koep's experiment called for placing more than 30 humidity censors. With the help of students and science teachers like Corey Dornack, Koep tracked and manipulated humidity levels throughout the building for two years.
"I think the cool thing is, they get to see themselves working with a scientist like Tyler and a lot of them can identify with Tyler. And they can see that someday maybe they can do the same type of stuff because he lots the same as they are."
The results of the experiment might have a positive effect on school attendance.
"If we can find a way to lower the number of students with the flu by either humidity levels or other ideas, we're always willing to look at that. So, I think this study is very interesting," said Principal Jim Sonju.
Among the interesting finds, one that really surprised Koep:
"The effect that people have on the humidity and their environment. We can see over time as students go to lunch, the humidity will drop over that time just because people are no longer in the room breathing and releasing moisture into the atmosphere."
Just one of the thousands of points of data the young scientist has collected in his study here.
According to the elementary school's principal, his school has seen a decrease in students out due to influenza this year. Whether or not that has to do with the changing humidity levels, we have yet to see.
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