Airborne disease transmission has always been a topic of wide interests in various fields for decades. Cough is found to be one of the prime sources of airborne diseases as it has high velocity and large quantity of droplets. To understand and characterize the flow dynamics of a cough can help to control the airborne disease transmission. This study has measured flow dynamics of coughs with human subjects. The flow rate variation of a cough with time can be represented as a combination of gamma-probability-distribution functions. The variables needed to define the gamma-probability-distribution functions can be represented by some medical parameters. A robust multiple linear regression analysis indicated that these medical parameters can be obtained from the physiological details of a person. However, the jet direction and mouth opening area during a cough seemed not related to the physiological parameters of the human subjects. Combining the flow characteristics reported in this study with appropriate virus and droplet distribution information, the infectious source strength by coughing can be evaluated.
Practical implications: There is a clear need for the scientific community to accurately predict and control the transmission of airborne diseases. Transportation of airborne viruses is often predicted using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations. CFD simulations are inexpensive but need accurate source boundary conditions for the precise prediction of disease transmission. Cough is found to be the prime source for generating infectious viruses. The present study was designed to develop an accurate source model to define thermo-fluid boundary conditions for a cough. The model can aid in accurately predicting the disease transmission in various indoor environments, such as aircraft cabins, office spaces and hospitals.