BALTIMORE (WJZ)– A University of Maryland professor is developing technology to prove that the flu can be spread from just breathing.
The brainchild of University of Maryland professor Dr. Donald Milton, the Gesundheit II, requires the patient to breathe and let the machine do the rest of the work.
“It just is pulling all of the air from around your face at a fast enough rate that we collect everything but not so fast that it feels like there’s a breeze,” Dr. Milton said.
The device is being used to collect and analyze the flu virus in an exhaled breathe. With the virus samples, researchers are trying to track down how the flu spreads.
“The focus has always been telling people, well, coughing and sneezing is how it’s transmitted,” Dr. Milton added.
Maryland has already has two confirmed flu-related deaths this season.
In 2014, MIT used high-speed imaging to study just how far cough and sneeze droplets, and therefore germs, can spread.
But in a CDC study earlier this year, researchers discovered that the flu virus can be transmitted simply by breathing.
“If we understand better how much of the infection is transmitted by air and what the dose in the air is, we can then figure out how to reduce your exposure,” Dr. Milton said.
Student volunteers are being used to study how the flu bug spreads, by swabbing people who come in contact with infected students.
“If I can show that you got the flu from him and it didn’t come from his nose but it came from his lung then you’ve got it by the airborne root. We got the answer,” Dr. Milton added.
There have been more than 45,000 flu-related deaths this season nationwide. Scientist are hoping to use the findings to create models for better ventilation systems that would make it harder for the flu, and other dangerous viruses to spread.
More than 240 schools across the nation closed Thursday because of the flu.