Protestors camping out in groups like Occupy Wall Street aren’t just at risk of getting arrested, rained on, or frozen in a makeshift tent. They’re also at risk from germs and other factors that can cause serious illnesses.
New York, hundreds of activists are packed together day and night in
Zuccotti Park, where cigarettes are shared and nobody’s getting much
sleep. Already, a lot of activists have what’s called “Zuccotti
lung,” a hacking cough that seems to be spreading from person to person.
expert Dr. Philip Tierno says that people crowded together in tent
camps are also at high risk for respiratory viruses, like tuberculosis
and Norovirus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea and could quickly
overwhelm the camp’s limited bathroom facilities. In fact, sanitation is
a huge problem with protestors tossing food on the ground to rot and
urinating in bottles instead of waiting in line for the bathroom.
Protestors are also living in damp clothing and carrying rain-soaked
signs, which are perfect for growing mold.
Tierno compares Occupy Wall Street conditions to pilgrimages in Mecca,
where huge groups of campers have come down with respiratory infections and diseases connected to contaminated water, like cholera.
Activists who get sick aren’t necessarily going home because they
believe getting sick is a badge of honor and just one of the many
sacrifices they have to make for a successful protest.
worse, the illnesses may not be contained in the camp for long, because
Occupy Wall Street protestors have made it a mission to shake the hand
of everyone who passes by.
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