How does the flu spread?
Experts believe flu viruses spread from person to person through water droplets produced by infected people when they cough, sneeze or even talk. Another person can become infected when these droplets land in the mouth or nose or are inhaled into the lungs. The virus may also be transmitted from surfaces or objects if a person touches infected areas and then touches their own mouth, nose or eyes.
Adults who are infected can pass the virus on to others starting 1 day before they themselves feel any symptoms, and continuing for 5 to 7 days after they fall ill. Children can pass the virus on for longer than 7 days after they stop showing symptoms. A person who had the flu can be contagious up to a day after symptoms have gone away by on their own and without the use of medications such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.
How can one avoid getting or spreading the flu?
The best way to avoid getting the flu would be to never come into contact with another person who has it, but that is difficult if not impossible. Healthy persons may get exposed in offices, buses or metros, classrooms and at home from sick relatives. Stay away from someone who is coughing or sneezing or makes it known that they are unwell. Since flu can spread when people are close together, avoid crowds in closed spaces during monsoon and winter months.
Also, even though the flu spreads through the air, hand-washing with soap or the use of hand sanitizers may also cut down some of the spread. People should avoid touching their mouth, nose or eyes if they have come into contact with surfaces such as doorknobs, lift buttons, hand rails or utensils that others may have used.
It is important that people who have flu symptoms stay at home and recover rather than going to the office or school where they can infect other people. Workplaces and schools should encourage people who may be ill to stay at home.