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How does the flu spread?

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Most of the time, the flu is spread through droplets in the air. Sick people sneeze or cough out beads of moisture that contain the flu virus. They can travel up to 6 feet. You're exposed to the flu virus when you breathe in the droplets, or if they land in your mouth, nose, or eyes. You can also get it if you touch a place where those droplets land -- like a desk, a counter, or a doorknob -- and then touch your face. The virus can live on hard surfaces for up to 48 hours.

From: How Long Is the Flu Contagious? WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

CDC: “How Flu Spreads,” “Flu & You.”

Cowling, B. , published online May 7, 2008. PLOSOne

Halloran, M. , Jan. 15, 2007. American Journal of Epidemiology

Hayward, A. , March 2010. KidsHealth: “Influenza (Flu).” Clinical Infectious Diseases

Medscape: “Influenza Practice Essentials.”

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Flu.gov: “Interim Guidance on Environmental Management of Pandemic Influenza Virus.”

UK National Health Service NHS Choices: “Flu.”

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on January 2, 2019

SOURCES:

CDC: “How Flu Spreads,” “Flu & You.”

Cowling, B. , published online May 7, 2008. PLOSOne

Halloran, M. , Jan. 15, 2007. American Journal of Epidemiology

Hayward, A. , March 2010. KidsHealth: “Influenza (Flu).” Clinical Infectious Diseases

Medscape: “Influenza Practice Essentials.”

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Flu.gov: “Interim Guidance on Environmental Management of Pandemic Influenza Virus.”

UK National Health Service NHS Choices: “Flu.”

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on January 2, 2019

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When am I most contagious when I have the flu?

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