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Coughs, sneezes travel longer distances than previously thought - New research
Research published online last week in The Journal of the American Medical Association found coughs and sneezes can carry 7-8 meters (23-26 feet) at speeds of 10-30 m/s (22-67 miles per hour). Dr. Lydia Bourouiba hopes her research will help the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control improve distancing guidance to prevent the spread of the virus and aid in the design of better protective gear, especially for medical workers.

You can do your part by maintaining distances recommended by the WHO and CDC and follow CDC guidance to cough or sneeze into a tissue when possible or your upper arm.

Dr. Bourouiba, a researcher studying the physics of disease transmission in humans, animals and plants, raised new information in efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Her research measured transmission of droplets using high speed video and lighting techniques to better understand their trajectories.

Quote:"The locally moist and warm atmosphere [of a cough or sneeze] allows the contained droplets to evade evaporation for much longer than occurs with isolated droplets. Under these conditions, the lifetime of a droplet could be considerably extended," said Dr. Bourouiba.

Research on how droplets from exhalations settle around an infected individual date back to the late 1800s. William Wells' study of tuberculosis transmission in the 1930s found that large droplets tend to settle near an infected individual, while smaller droplets tend to evaporate leaving material which travels further.

How effectively a virus is transmitted in these small vs large droplets is core to recommendations by the The World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Quote:“Epidemics have shaped human history throughout time. Today we want to be sure that the full depth of understanding from all corners of science are leveraged to mitigate epidemics and save lives,” Dr. Bourouiba said.


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