How far can the flu virus travel?

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Flu is very contagious. That’s a well-known fact. What most people don’t know is just how far the flu virus can travel. According to a study carried out during the 2010/2011 influenza season, the virus can travel up to six feet from the patient’s head. This is contrary to the popular belief that influenza will travel only as far as large droplets produced after sneezing or coughing can go.

Even though this is still research in the making, it is always wise to keep off the infection radius long before it gets a confirmation. The World Health Organization (WHO) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention admits that large sized respiratory particles are the greatest vectors. These could take the influenza virus to a maximum of four feet making this the official ‘kill zone.’

Latest Research Results

The January 2013 report, Clinical Infectious Diseases and high-speed camera tests by Singapore’s National University Hospital scientists has effectively pushed the infection zone making flu more dangerous. The experiments prove that the spray of tiny liquid droplets can actually fly further, up to six feet, hence placing any unprotected person within that range in danger.

The concentration of influenza virus in the particles decreases as the distance from the patient’s head increases. Coupling this with the varying concentration of the payload from one patient to another makes the exact range harder to pinpoint.

Protecting Yourself from Infection

The simplest way to reducing your chances of contracting influenza is by staying as far away as possible. This will involve avoiding gatherings or congested areas during the influenza season and keeping off potential patients whenever possible.

If you cannot avoid infected people, you have to wear a protective mast that will catch most of the particles. This could not be 100 percent protection since most of the equipment capable of filtering even the smallest particles, for instance the N95 respirators are hard to come by.

Getting your flu shot remains to be the strongest first line of defense. This will prepare your body for the infection just in case you can’t avoid the infected droplets. Encouraging patients to stay hygienic and cough into a tissue, handkerchief or sleeve will reduce the virus’ airborne virility.

Hygiene is Crucial

Even though coughing, sneezing, talking and even singing poses the highest threat if you are around the patient, you can still get infected by picking the virus off infected surfaces or touching your mucus membranes, for instance the nose, mouth or eyes with contaminated hands.

Wash your hands as often as possible. Wipe off surfaces around the infected person with disinfectant as often as possible. Disposing off towels and the used handkerchiefs appropriately will also reduce the risk of subsequent infection or re infection.

Understanding How Flu Makes You Contagious

Most of the adults will infect someone starting from day one, long before they see their own influenza symptoms. They will stay contagious through to day five or seven if the infection. Children are better vectors and can remain contagious for over seven days. The fact that you don’t develop the flu symptoms immediately after infection makes it ever so important to get a vaccine just before the influenza season.

Combining the influenza shot with a healthy lifestyle and proper hygiene could be all you need to survive a breakout. You should be more concerned with keeping flu out if you have children younger than five years in your family or under your direct care as they are more susceptible to infection as their immune system isn’t as strong as an adult’s.

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