Infectious disease transmission through the lens of fluid dynamics

Lydia Bourouiba

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, MIT




Transfer of pathogens between infected and non-infected members of a population are critical in shaping the outcome of an epidemic. Despite major public hearth efforts to investigate infectious disease spread patterns the fundamental mechanisms of transmission of most pathogens remain poorly understood. In particular, a critical gap persist in our understanding of the bridge between population-level and pathogen-level mechanisms. In this talk, combined theoretical and experimental work making the link between fluid dynamics and disease transmission will be discussed. Fluid fragmentation will be discussed to be critical in shaping the patterns of contamination resulting from pathogen-bearing droplet emissions in two example systems: human diseases and rain-induced foliar diseases.