Aerosol particles expelled during human coughs are a potential pathway for infectious disease transmission. However, the importance of airborne transmission is unclear for many diseases. To better understand the role of cough aerosol particles in the spread of disease and the efficacy of different types of protective measures, we constructed a cough aerosol simulator that produces a humanlike cough in a controlled environment. The simulated cough has a 4.2 l volume and is based on coughs recorded from influenza patients. In one configuration, the simulator produces a cough aerosol containing particles from 0.1 to 100 um in diameter with a volume median diameter (VMD) of 8.5 um and a geometric standard deviation (GSD) of 2.9. In a second configuration, the cough aerosol has a size range of 0.1-30 um, a VMDof 3.4 um, and a GSD of 2.3. The total aerosol volume expelled during each cough is 68 ul. By generating a controlled and reproducible artificial cough, the simulator allows us to test different ventilation, disinfection, and personal protection scenarios. The system can be used with live pathogens, including influenza virus, which allows isolation precautions used in the healthcare field to be tested without risk of exposure for workers or patients. The information gained from tests with the simulator will help to better understand the transmission of infectious diseases, develop improved techniques for infection control, and improve safety for healthcare workers and patients.
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