A new study shows that flu germs can travel in the air up to six feet which is a greater distance than previously thought by those in the healthcare and medical research fields. Researchers at the Wake Forest School of Medicine collected air samples within distances of one foot, three feet, and six feet of 94 patients with flu-like symptoms. These patients were also rated on the severity of their symptoms, including the number of times they coughed and sneezed and the length of time they had been sick.
65 percent of the patients in the study tested positive for the flu and a quarter of these were shown to have released particles containing the virus into the air. The people with the worst symptoms emitted the highest levels of the flu virus and the germs were found in small particles up to six feet away from the infected patient.
Healthcare providers, caretakers, family and friends are urged to take even more caution when in contact with someone who has the flu.
Source: Bischoff W, Swett K, Leng I, Peters T. Exposure to influenza virus aerosols during routine patient care. Journal of Infectious Diseases. First published online Jan 30, 2013. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jis773.