Until now, most people thought you caught the flu after being exposed to droplets from an infected person’s coughs or sneezes, or by touching contaminated surfaces.
But a study released Thursday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesreveals that we may pass the flu to others just by breathing.
The study — which included researchers who are now working at San Jose State University and UC Berkeley — offers new evidence on the importance of the flu’s airborne qualities and how it can easily be transmitted to others. Researchers found large quantities of infectious viruses in the breath exhaled by those suffering from the flu.
“The study findings suggest that keeping surfaces clean, washing our hands all the time, and avoiding people who are coughing does not provide complete protection from getting the flu,” Sheryl Ehrman, who is now dean of the College of Engineering at San Jose State University, said in a statement. “Staying home and out of public spaces could make a difference in the spread of the influenza virus.”