According to a recent study, we sneeze a spray of droplets out our noses. A group of scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) discovered that during sneezing we launch a sheet of fluids which balloons, then breaks in a spray of droplets.
Lydia Bourouiba, head of the Fluid Dynamics of Disease Transmission Laboratory at MIT explained a better understanding of how sneezing disperses the spray of droplets may help experts map the amount of spread infections in the environment.
In addition, she said this can also point out individuals who may be serious spreaders. In their research, experts used two high speed cameras to record over 100 sneezes from healthy patients. Each of three participants were positioned towards a black backdrop.
The experts set up two high speed monochrome cameras which were focused on the individuals’ mouth. To make the subjects sneeze, the scientists tickled their noses and afterwards they recorded the actual sneeze. They attempted to catch the fraction of a second when fluid is flung through the air. It was found that each sneeze created the same paint like fluid pattern.
The fluid created a large sheet which ballooned once the air was expelled. As it traveled through the air, the new balloon burst into tiny filaments. These filaments broke up into single droplets of various sizes and then fell to the ground. However, scientists discovered a slight variation. Participants who had more elastic saliva launched the fluid in longer filaments.
Along the filaments beads were formed that in the end turned into a spray of droplets. Scientists said they didn’t expect this thing to happen. They thought the droplets were already formed in the respiratory tract, coming out the moment when a person sneezes. According to their results, this is not the case. They also explained this way they can understand better the mechanistic of violent expirations.
Borouiba stated the research is a very important step into knowing more about viral infections and how they are spread. At the moment, she and her team are setting up a new laboratory at MIT which will allow them to conduct experiments to understand the patterns of disease transmission.
Borouiba declared that:
“One of the important goals I have for the lab is to tackle cold and influenza. Sometimes the symptoms are difficult to distinguish. In the coming year, at different cold and influenza seasons, we will be recruiting human subjects whom we can work with to see them in infection and in health.”
The fact that we sneeze a spray of droplets out our noses may seem uncomfortable for many of us, but experts believe this study will help prevent virus propagation.
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