Healthy Heart

How Does the Flu Spread?

How Does the Flu Spread?

Key Takeaways

  • You can contract the flu by simply sharing utensils with an infected person.
  • One must wash their hands after interacting with an infected person because the virus can be transmitted easily through physical contact.

The flu, or influenza, is a contagious disease, and it affects millions of people a year, particularly during the winter and early spring. This respiratory disease is caused by influenza A and B viruses, which attack the lower and upper respiratory tract. In cases, the symptoms caused by the flu subside within a week or two. In very rare cases, it may result in other medical complications, like pneumonia, which may be life-threatening. The most popular method used to prevent the flu is the flu vaccine. Timely vaccination will help to offer the best protection.

The most common method that spreads the flu virus is known as a droplet spread, referring to the presence of infectious agents in droplets released through a cough and sneeze. The droplets containing the viruses spread through air and may come in contact with another person nearby. The droplets may also remain in surfaces touched by the infected person. When another person touches the same surface and then touches their nose and mouth without washing their hands, the virus gains access to the body.

Sharing utensils and other personal items before washing them thoroughly also helps to spread the disease. Personal clothing, bed sheets, and towels of the infected person should be washed thoroughly with soap. One should avoid holding the clothes that were worn by an infected person too close for a long time before washing, to prevent contamination. After washing the contaminated clothes, one should wash their hands to prevent further contamination on other surfaces. Sharing utensils for eating is also a way for spreading this virus. Any utensils used should be cleaned thoroughly before they used by another person.

An infected person may be able to spread the infection days before the symptoms start appearing. He or she may still be able to spread the infection for a week or so after the symptoms surface. In the case of children, the infection may spread for a longer period of time. The first symptoms are seen within three to four days after exposure to the infectious agent. 

Understanding how the flu can be spread is essential to protect you from getting this virus.

Simple tips that are helpful to control the spread of this illness are to:

  • Cover your mouth and nose while sneezing and coughing
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Avoid sharing personal clothing and utensils
  • Avoid close contact with others who are infected