VIDEO: Flu Containment: How Far Do Contagious Flu Droplets Travel? How Does Flu Attack?

NPR “Flu Attack! How a Virus Invades Your Body with David Balinsky (medical illustrator) and animation by Zirus and XVIVO.

You’re in the store, and you see someone in the aisle with red, watery eyes in the middle of flu season, and what do you think? Is the person hung over, or do they have a nasty cold or the flu? Well too bad they didn’t take the advice of the medical community and keep their contagious selves home. They ask the store manager a question and they sound sick, and then here it comes … a big sneeze.

Now you ask, how far do flu droplets travel?

3 feet? 6 feet? 9 feet? 12 feet? 20 feet?

We’ve seen Dr. March Siegel, M.D. of Fox News Channel’s medical team demonstrated droplets with a range of 12 feet on Fox News Saturday morning, January 19, 2013..

The Centers for Disease Control reports that the droplets do not remain suspended in the air very long and they only travel about one meter or 3.3 feet (on another CDC page, the center report six feet). Never mind the CDC figures because both of those distances have has been debunked by Marc Siegel’s demonstration that shows a distance of about 12 feet. Think about it … 3 feet? Come on Centers for Disease Control, you’re almost hugging a person at three feet. A room with a draft, an open door with a breeze … 12 feet makes pretty good sense.

Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through droplets that come from a sick person’s nose and mouth when they cough, sneeze, or talk — Hhhhhhhello there.

Flu viruses also may spread when you touch something with flu virus on it and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Many other viruses spread this way, too.

Cold and Flu Defense …

Avoidance of the Uncontained
Stay away from people that don’t contain themselves when they’re sick. When your’re in the grocery aisle and you’re outside of a distance of 12 feet from the sneezer, turn around and don’t walk through their droplet cloud.

Don’t Infect Yourself
Never touch your eyes, nose or mouth while out in public or before you have washed your hands or used a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol to clean your hands. Washing hands lowers the amount of flu virus that may spread when shaking hands or touching surfaces and objects, such as desks, doorknobs, shopping cart handles and anything else that might have been sneezed on or coughed on.

Clean Surfaces and Objects
Routinely clean surfaces and objects that are touched often, including desks, doorknobs, railings, computer keyboards, and phones. Soap and water is all you need to kill flu viruses. A bleach and water solution or disinfectant with a label that says “EPA-approved” for killing bacteria and viruses can also be used to remove and kill germs other than flu. Always follow directions on product labels.

Get the flu shot
Get the flu shot.

Eat well
One nutrient that may help particularly during cold and flu season is zinc. Just don’t overdose on zinc. The usual nutrition advice applies. Don’t overdo it on sugar and high fat meals. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, but be careful at the salad bar — remember the sneezing info above. Garlic may also fight off certain bacteria and viruses.

Sleep well
Getting enough rest helps the immune system and lets the body repair itself.

Get exercise
Regular exercise helps the immune system. However, extreme long distance running and other long endurance exercise can weaken the immune system. Long distance runners catch more colds per year than the average person that exercises moderately or doesn’t exercise at all.

Don’t let you house or apartment get too dry
Protect your nasal membranes and throat from drying out by keeping your indoor environment humidified. Humidity less than 25 percent to 30 percent can dry out the nose, mouth and throat which leaves the membranes more vulnerable to exposure from cold and flu viruses. High rise residents take particular note. Higher floors tend to have lower humidity. The higher you live, the drier the atmosphere.

How soon will I get sick if I am exposed to the flu?
The time from when a person is exposed to flu virus to when symptoms begin is about 1 to 4 days, with an average of about 2 days.

How long are people contagious?
Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than 7 days. Symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some persons can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others.

Scientists at Zirus are working on a new technology platform to cure and manage viral infection through the development of new classes of antivirotics. This animation depicts the life cycle of H1N1 influenza-A virus and the methodology Zirus uses to find appropriate targets.

Quick Glossary

The protein shell of a virus.

Capture Vessel
An intracellular vessel that mistakenly prepares the virus for transport.

A gel-like substance inside the cell membrane that floats all of the internal sub-structures of cells. Metabolic activities occur in the cytoplasm and in organelles in the cytoplasm.

A process involving the cell absorption of molecules (such as proteins) by engulfing them — often a good thing. Endocytosis is used by all cells of the body because most substances important to them are large polar molecules that cannot pass through the hydrophobic plasma or cell membrane. Endocytosis of a virus is usually bad.

Proteins that transport virus in Capture Vessel along Microtubules.

Tubular structures in cell cytoplasm that are important in a number of cellular processes — healthy and disease causing.

Little organs that are usually membrane-bound structures inside the cell that have specific functions.

A complete viral particle, consisting of RNA or DNA surrounded by a protein shell and constituting the infective form of a virus.

See also …

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