BALTIMORE (WJZ) – New research from a team headed by University of North Carolina scientists show why you should properly wear your mask over your mouth and nose.

The study published Thursday in the journal Cell finds the nose “is a fertile site for early SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) infection.”

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“It’s not surprising,” Johns Hopkins School of Public Health epidemiologist David Dowdy said. “We know that many viruses set up shop first in the nose. More transmission often happens through the nose than through the mouth.”

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Physicians say masks help protect yourself and others. This research shows when masks are worn properly over your nose you’re better protecting yourself.

“The respiratory tract in general is a fertile ground for COVID-19. A lot of times, we’re picking it up through our noses,” LifeBridge Health pulmonologist Dr. Naveed Shah said. “Because [the virus] in the air and we’re breathing it in, it’s either going to go through our nose or through our mouth.”

The study shows how the virus gets into the lungs of those who develop pneumonia. Scientists say the findings are critical in vaccine efforts, as well.

“We describe a new reverse genetic platform for SARS-CoV-2, which allows us to produce key indicator viruses that will support national vaccine efforts designed to control the spread and severity of this terrible disease,” co-author Ralph Baric said in a UNC publication.

Dowdy says the virus is so contagious, it is difficult to control unless we all do our part.

“We really do depend more and more on everyone following the rules, wearing their mask, keeping their distance,” Dowdy said.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Paul Gessler

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