Can you get the flu simply by breathing?


Study finds influenza may be an airborne virus

 For years, conventional wisdom among flu experts has been that influenza was not an airborne virus but spread by fairly large droplets resulting from coughing or sneezing. However, a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates individuals with influenza can easily transmit the virus to others by exhaling flu-laden particles that can float and contaminate the air around them for minutes and even hours.

In others words, even if they aren’t coughing or sneezing, individuals with the flu can launch contagious particles into the air whenever they talk or breathe, according to the report.

“These new findings can prove useful for containing the spread of influenza, especially during a season of such widespread and simultaneous flu activity, said Jacob French, FNP, Ascension Medical Group Providence Family Medicine at Lacy Lakeview. Ascension Providence is part of Ascension, the largest nonprofit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system.

Five ways to protect yourself and others from the flu

The following precautions are based on recommendations from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  1. It’s not too late to vaccinate. The first and most important step in preventing flu is to get a flu vaccination each year. The flu shot remains one of the most worthwhile ways of protecting yourself and others from influenza.
  2. Wash your hands frequently and cover your coughs and sneezes. These everyday actions can help slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory (nose, throat, and lungs) illnesses, like flu.
  3. Keep your distance. Stay away from people who are sick, stay home if you are sick and isolate yourself from others around you to prevent the spread of flu.
  4. Be careful in closed rooms and public spaces with limited air flow. Fogged-up windows in closed rooms (like gyms) are clues indicating inadequate air exchange, which can foster the spread of illnesses, like flu.
  5. Consult with your doctor, if needed.

 Think you might have the flu? Find the care you need, when and where you need it. Visit