How The Flu Spreads

The influenza, otherwise known as the flu, is an extremely common illness worldwide. But how does the flu spread? The flu can be spread from one person to another, from up to six feet away, through tiny droplets that travel through the air when one coughs, sneezes, or talks. The droplets can enter through one’s mouth, nose, and even eyes. The droplets can also land on a person or object, and one can get the virus by touching the virus and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes. 

The flu spreads most easily three to four days after a person has become sick with the flu. Adults (with healthy immune systems) are able to spread the flu one day before symptoms develop and, at most, seven days after symptoms develop. Children and people with weakened immune systems may be able to spread the flu for longer durations, as they are more likely to be ill with the flu longer than adults.

People are able to spread the flu before they know they are sick, as symptoms from the flu may show up as late as four days after the virus has entered the body. Flu symptoms include fevers, chills, runny/stuffy nose, headache, and sore throat. For some, the symptoms never show, but in these cases, the flu can still be spread to others.

*Reviewed and approved by Dr. Rob Lapporte

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