Health

It’s Flu Time. Do You Know How the Flu Spreads?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) explains on its website how the flu spreads, reminding us why the flu season is a time to learn and to prevent.

Person to Person

The main way that influenza viruses are thought to spread is from person to person in respiratory droplets of coughs and sneezes. This is called “droplet spread,” the Centers for Disease Control explains in its fact sheets about flu and flu prevention. This can happen when droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person are propelled through the air and deposited on the mouth or nose of people nearby. It is important to note that Influenza viruses may also be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets on another person or an object and then touches their own mouth or nose (or someone else’s mouth or nose) before washing their hands. CDC and other experts can’t stress hand washing enough. Handwashing saves lives.

According to the CDC, individuals should wash their hands with soap and water immediately after handling dirty laundry or anything soiled. If soap and water are not available, they should use an alcohol-based hand rub to clean their hands. Eating utensils should be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap, the CDC stresses.

Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick do not need to be cleaned separately, but importantly these items should not be shared without washing thoroughly first. Linens (such as bed sheets and towels) should be washed by using household laundry soap and tumbled dry on a hot setting. Individuals should avoid “hugging” laundry prior to washing it to prevent contaminating themselves.

The Flu Is Contagious

Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than seven days. Symptoms start one to four days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some persons can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others. This is why the CDC and other health professionals emphasize good handwashing practices.

To learn more on good handwashing, information about flu in children and other health information, please call 1-800-CDC-INFO 24 hours a day, seven days a week; email cdcinfo@cdc.gov; or visit www.cdc.gov or talk to your doctor.

About the author

The West Bank Beacon

The West Bank Beacon is a local monthly publication with a mailed circulation of over 15,000 and thousands more distributed at points from Gretna to Grand Isle, the Beacon tells the story of a thriving community. A “good news” newspaper, our mission is to make readers aware of how both individuals and groups are making a positive difference in the neighborhoods where they live. This includes a focus on civic and city initiatives, volunteer efforts, and charity fundraisers, to name just a few examples.

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