The flu is a dangerous virus because it can be transmitted easily in a number of common ways. It is highly contagious and can work through an entire building in very little time. Part of avoiding the flu requires knowing the different ways it can be caught. You should understand how the flu is transmitted.
Contact With Someone Who Has the Flu
One of the main ways that the flu is transmitted is through contact with someone who has already been infected. The flu virus can jump from one person to the next when you come in close personal contact with that individual. The main mechanism for this is tiny droplets of bodily fluids like saliva that make it onto the hands or face of someone else. Those droplets can be released when a person talks, sneezes or coughs. You could also get the flu if someone has recently touched infected fluids by rubbing their eye or chewing on a fingernail and then shakes your hand. The flu makes it into your body through your mouth, eyes, nose or even an open cut.
Inhaling the Virus
A second common way the flu is transmitted is through the air. You can actually inhale the flu virus from the air even if there is not someone infected in the immediate area. The droplets of fluid that are emitted when a person coughs or sneezes are incredibly small. They are sometimes small enough to remain suspended in the air for some time. Other droplets might come to rest on a surface only to be ejected back into the air later. If you inhale one of these droplets in the air, then you could get the flu. The droplets can remain infectious for some time.
Touching Infected Surfaces
A slightly less common way the flu is transmitted is by touching an infected surface. The flu virus is very resilient when compared to other types of viruses. If person who is carrying the flu touches a surface with an infected hand, sneezes on a surface or coughs on an item, then that surface will be carrying the flu virus. If you handle that item or touch the surface even lightly for just a second, then you will pick up the virus. You can then become infected by touching your eyes, nose or mouth with the infected hand. You could also transfer the virus to the food you eat. It is even possible to transfer the flu from one surface to another in this way.
When Transmission Is Possible
Something to remember is that the flu can survive outside the body for only so long. The virus will eventually die and become harmless if it cannot find a host. Human beings remain contagious for around five to seven days. It is important to remember that a person can transmit the flu for up to 24 hours before showing any symptoms. If the flu is on a hard surface, then it can survive for up to 24 hours. Flu virus that is suspended in the air in a droplet can survive for four to six hours. The flu virus can survive for only around 15 minutes on human skin.