Assessing the Dynamics and Control of Droplet- and Aerosol-Transmitted Influenza Using an Indoor Positioning System

Timo Smieszek, Gianrocco Lazzari, Marcel Salathé*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


There is increasing evidence that aerosol transmission is a major contributor to the spread of influenza. Despite this, virtually all studies assessing the dynamics and control of influenza assume that it is transmitted solely through direct contact and large droplets, requiring close physical proximity. Here, we use wireless sensors to measure simultaneously both the location and close proximity contacts in the population of a US high school. This dataset, highly resolved in space and time, allows us to model both droplet and aerosol transmission either in isolation or in combination. In particular, it allows us to computationally quantify the potential effectiveness of overlooked mitigation strategies such as improved ventilation that are available in the case of aerosol transmission. Our model suggests that recommendation-abiding ventilation could be as effective in mitigating outbreaks as vaccinating approximately half of the population. In simulations using empirical transmission levels observed in households, we find that bringing ventilation to recommended levels had the same mitigating effect as a vaccination coverage of 50% to 60%. Ventilation is an easy-to-implement strategy that has the potential to support vaccination efforts for effective control of influenza spread.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2185
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a fellowship from the German Academic Exchange Service DAAD to T.S. (Grant D/10/52328); T.S. also thanks the UK National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Modelling Methodology at Imperial College London in partnership with Public Health England (PHE) for funding (grant HPRU-2012-10080). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the MRC, the NHS, the NIHR, the Department of Health, Public Health England or any other organization the authors’ are affiliated with or received funding from. We also thank the High-Performance Computing group (SCITAS) of EPFL for his technical support.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, The Author(s).

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


Dive into the research topics of 'Assessing the Dynamics and Control of Droplet- and Aerosol-Transmitted Influenza Using an Indoor Positioning System'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this