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February 02, 2013

Just How Contagious is the Flu (and Other Viral Infections)?

Everybody knows the flu and other viral infections are contagious, but did you wonder just how contagious???

Well, here are some facts gleaned from a few studies:

• In just 4 hours, one sick worker can contaminate 50% of surfaces in a typical office
• After 8 hours, one sick worker can contaminate 70%+ of surfaces
• Non-sick workers have a 40-90% chance of getting infected after spending one day with a sick worker
• A sneeze or cough can hurl virus 6 feet away from the mouth
• A sick person literally "emanates" virus up to 6 feet away... even if they are NOT sneezing or coughing.
• Some sick individuals are super-carriers spreading the virus around them 32 times more than others

The good news is that viruses can not survive on surfaces for long... They usually die off within a day (type of surface, temperature, and humidity affecting duration).

Source:
Flu Virus Can Travel Up to 6 Feet, Infect Up to 90 Percent of People Just from Contaminated Surfaces. Medical Daily News 2/1/13

References:
Exposure to Influenza Virus Aerosols During Routine Patient Care. J Infect Dis. 2013 Jan 30. [Epub ahead of print]

InfluenzaVirus: Here, There, Especially Air? J Infect Dis. (2013) doi: 10.1093/infdis/jis774


Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids. Google+ Christopher Chang, MD Bio

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