How the flu virus spreads

Fall 2009 CSANews Issue 72  |  Posted date : Sep 23, 2009.Back to list

Autumn is the right time to plan a prevention strategy for influenza. Indeed, this season is expected to be quite a challenge to our immune systems as the community looks for the best way to fight off flu viruses, including the H1N1 virus known as swine flu.

Health specialists tell us that everyone plays an important role in preventing the spread of these viruses. While we wait for the vaccines to become available, a strategy for prevention is key.

To stop germs in their tracks, here's a refresher on how viruses spread:

If an infected person coughs or sneezes near you, virus-filled droplets will move through the air, often making contact with the mouth and nose of other people. Prevention Tip: Be aware of those coughing and sneezing. Move away and keep your hands from touching your face. If you are the one sneezing and coughing, cover your mouth with a tissue and discard it as soon as possible. If no tissues are available, use your sleeve or elbow.

Infected droplets will also reach surfaces like doorknobs, tabletops, handrails, phones, keyboards, and remote control devices. Flu viruses and other germs can live for two hours or longer on hard environmental surfaces, ready to be spread into the eyes, nose and mouth, if touched. Prevention Tip: If your hands touch surfaces outside the home, keep them away from your face until washed. If a family member is sneezing and coughing inside the home, keep surfaces clean and disinfected, and continue a regimen of frequent and thorough hand washing.

– News Canada