If This Doesn’t Compel You to Sneeze Into Your Elbow, You Are Beyond Hope

By
Image
Photo: B. E. Scharfman, A. H. Techet, J. W. M. Bush, L. Bourouiba

The good people at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently took high-speed camera photos of more than 100 sneezes in the name of mapping the spread of infectious diseases, and they are even more foul than you might expect.

Per a release:

“New high-speed videos captured by MIT researchers show that as a person sneezes, they launch a sheet of fluid that balloons, then breaks apart in long filaments that destabilize, and finally disperses as a spray of droplets, similar to paint that is flung through the air.”

Can’t quite visualize it? Here, this will help.

Image
Nope.Photo: Courtesy of B. E. Scharfman, A. H. Techet, J. W. M. Bush, L. Bourouiba

A dainty mist this is not. Understanding the fluid dynamics of the nasty particles that fly out of your mouth, a.k.a. “sneeze ejecta,” could help the MIT team identify so-called super-spreaders of infections. But the basic takeaway is that anyone who doesn’t cover their mouth when they sneeze is spreading far too much.

Say it with me, class: The next time I have to sneeze and don’t have a tissue, I will do so into the crook of my elbow like a good, non-disgusting citizen.