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How does the flu spread?

How does the flu spread? | UPMC Health Plan

It’s flu season. That means rolling up your sleeves and doing your part to prevent spreading the flu this season. And there’s more you can do in addition to getting your annual flu shot. A person can spread the flu from up to 6 feet away, so it’s very important to know how to protect yourself and others. We have all you need to know and more!

It’s no secret that the flu is contagious, and that’s a very important place to start. A person with the flu can start spread it at day one and continue for 5-7 days after becoming sick. So you can spread the flu before and after knowing you are sick to anyone you come in contact with — friends, family, co-workers, even strangers.

The flu can spread:

  • By coughing, sneezing, and talking through droplets, which can then be inhaled into the lungs.
  • Direct bodily contact, such as kissing someone with the flu.
  • Touching surfaces and then transmitting to the eyes, mouth, and nose.
  • Shaking hands with someone who has the flu and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.

You can prevent the spread by:

  • Quarantining yourself if you are sick (don’t go to work or public places with a lot of people).
  • Washing your hands as often as possible, using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Disinfecting commonly touched surfaces at home, work, and school.

The number one way to avoid getting and spreading the flu in the first place is to get your flu vaccine each year. The flu vaccine will cause your body to develop antibodies against the virus within about two weeks. While the vaccine is not guaranteed to protect against all viruses, the traditional flu vaccine is made to protect against three different strains. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone older than 6 months gets vaccinated every season.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention