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Flu news

Toni-Ann DiSantis

Flu news: Catching it may be easier than you think.

You know the flu prevention basics. Get your annual flu shot. Wash your hands like it’s your job. Steer clear of coughing and sneezing people. Keep surfaces clean. Avoid airplanes, buses and trains, and other places where people are kept confined for extended periods. But what if transmitting and catching the dreaded seasonal virus is as simple as…breathing? While conventional wisdom has held that we catch the flu from contaminated surfaces or droplets from a flu carrier’s coughs or sneezes, a recent study showed that people who are infected with the flu can exhale tiny droplets containing the virus that stay suspended in the air, especially during the first few days of sickness. That means it may be possible to catch the flu by simply breathing near those who are ill, even if they’re not coughing or sneezing. Since we can’t all hold our breath until flu season is over, your best bet is to be vigilant about prevention. And if you feel yourself coming down with something, help others avoid the flu by going home as soon as possible, and avoiding going to work and public places until you’ve been without a fever for at least 24 hours. See or call your doc about antivirals as soon as possible. Keep in mind that while most people recover from the flu without needing medical care, serious complications do happen, and some people are at high risk for them, including adults age 65 and older, young children, pregnant women, and people with certain medical conditions. If you’re at high risk for complications, contact your health care provider if you develop flu symptoms. (For adults, symptoms such as difficulty breathing, sudden dizziness, pain or pressure in the chest, or persistent or severe vomiting warrant a trip to the emergency room.) Good luck out there!