Heart Disease is Blowing in the Wind

HEALTH

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.

In this typically spectacular image from the good folks at NASA, we can see how wind carries particles across the East China Sea, below the Korean Peninsula, and northward toward the islands of Japan. The particles in this image are air pollution from industrial and agricultural activities. Recent research has also revealed these wind patterns carry the pathogen for Kawasaki disease, a heart condition often striking children. Image courtesy the SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE

In this typically spectacular image from the good folks at NASA, we can see how wind carries particles across the East China Sea, below the Korean Peninsula, and northward toward the islands of Japan. The particles in this image are air pollution from industrial and agricultural activities. Recent research has revealed winds from more northern regions in China may carry the pathogen for Kawasaki disease, a heart condition often striking children.
Image courtesy the SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE

Discussion Ideas

  • 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.

 

 

  • 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.

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