Flu can be spread just by breathing, says expert

  • Flu can be spread just by breathing, says expert

Flu can be spread just by breathing, says expert

Scientists at the University of Maryland measured people with flu infections while they breathed, talked, coughed and sneezed.

It was already known to everyone that people with flu should make sure to cough or sneeze with their mouth closed, but researchers at the University of Maryland say that this is not just enough, an that simple breathing could also spread the virus.

The findings come as raised levels of flu in the United Kingdom this week heaped more pressure on busy A&Es.

We've also heard that you should wipe down surfaces consistently and always wash your hands.

Instead, to avoid catching a dose, the only way would be to send home those coming down with flu, avoid public places during the flu season or get the flu jab.

Dr Milton said he hopes the findings could help health officials come closer to understanding how the flu is spread, and therefore how to control it and how to produce a better vaccine against it.

The team then assessed the infectivity of naturally occurring influenza aerosols - tiny droplets that stay suspended in the air for a long time - and found that a significant number of flu patients regularly shed the infectious virus into aerosol particles that are small enough to present a risk for airborne transmission.

"Our study reinforces that so if they are really sick, you would want to stay home, don't go to work, don't go in public spaces, stay off public transportation don't go to the grocery store and that should reduce the likelihood of transmitting the flu", she said.

The study involved putting 142 students with flu inside the machine dubbed Gesundheit II for 30 minutes on the first, second and third days after the onset of symptoms.

This new research thus provides evidence for the increased potential of airborne transmission of the influenza virus.

"We found that flu cases contaminated the air around them with infectious virus just by breathing, without coughing or sneezing", said Donald Milton, professor of environmental health at the University of Maryland and a lead researcher of the study at the University of Maryland and a lead researcher of the study. But coughing and sneezing are still believed to spread the illness more easily than breathing, the study suggests.

Half of the samples had detectable viral flu in them, suggesting coughing is not the only way to spread the deadly flu.