Flu Shot

UF researchers created a device capable of capturing airborne strains of the flu virus to help prevent outbreaks for next flu season, which runs October to February.

Chang-Yu Wu, a UF environmental engineering professor, said he decided to work on the project about 10 years ago because the only available devices, called samplers, could only capture between 5 and 10 percent of the virus in the air. Wu wanted to create a device that could capture more and isolate humans’ and animals’ virus strains.

The team of five UF researchers, with help from UF undergraduate and graduate students, built a device in their engineering school laboratory to capture 90 percent of the airborne flu virus.

The sampler collects more samples by using water vapor to increase the size of the viruses so they stay in the device.

The project received $418,598 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a governmental agency that funds research on diseases.

Wu said they have tested the sampler in the lab and UF’s Student Health Care Center.

“I hope we have a product that can be available to anyone who wants to use it whether that be public locations like airports, homeland security or chicken farms,” Wu said.