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The fluid dynamics of disease transmission: drop impacts and transfer of pathogens

Lydia Bourouiba: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

<div><span class="s1">Statistical correlations were reported between rainfall and crop disease outbreaks, suggesting that rain is a culprit in the dispersal of foliar pathogens. The mechanisms involved for dispersal of such pathogens and others in agricultural fields remain however poorly understood. In this combined experimental and theoretical study, we unveil the mechanisms at play when drops impact a range of infected surfaces. We discuss how fluid fragmentation is critical in shaping the patterns of contamination resulting from emission of pathogen-bearing droplets driving rain-induced epidemics. We discuss how these results interface with mechanisms driving disease spread at a range of scales in the field and between fields. These results are important to improve understanding of pathogen transmission and guide risk assessment and intervention strategies to mitigate crop contamination. </span></div>