A woman walks past a sign on the street advertising a free flu shot clinic in Boston (Photo : Reuters)
Think you're safe from the flu?
It might depend on how far you are.
A new study has concluded that infectious particles from a person currently with the flu can travel at least six feet.
The study, which will be published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, noted 94 people participated in the experiment during the 2010-2011 flu season. The 94 people visited a hospital for flu-like symptoms while researchers sampled the air with devices placed one, three, and six feet away from the patient.
At each of the three spots, particles of the flu were found.
"Our study offers new evidence of the natural emission of influenza and may provide a better understanding of how to best protect health care providers during routine care activities," said researcher Dr. Werner Bischoff from Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina.
The study has given researches the understanding that the flu does spread in the air but are unsure about the degree or severity of the virus particles spread between one to six feet.
According to Dr. Bischoff, when the flu virus is in smaller particle form, it can travel further than large ones.
The researchers did not test if the flu traveled beyond six feet.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are still urging people to take their flu vaccine if they haven't done so already.
According to the CDC, preventive actions to stop the spread of the flu, but not alternatives to refraining a flu shot, are:
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you get sick with a respiratory illness, like flu, limit contact with others as possible. Stay home (or keep your child home) for at least 24 hours after fever is gone except to seek medical care or for other necessities. Fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
- If an outbreak of flu or another illness occurs, follow public health advice. This may include information about how to increase distance between people and other measures.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. This will block the spread of droplets from your mouth or nose that could contain germs.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.