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Infectious Diseases

Contageous before flu symptoms?

01/16/2004

Question:

Is it possible to contract the flu from someone before they know they are sick or is the flu only contageous after the person starts exhibiting symptoms. Also, can the flu virus circulate throughout the air of enclosed places, or do you have to be close to someone who is sneezing/coughing in order to contract the flu. Thank you.

Answer:

Usually, flu is transmitted by touch, sneezing, etc as you note. Often this is direct contact (hands) or droplets (sneezing, etc.), particularly if you are 3 feet or less from the person who is sick and is coughing, etc. Usually the person is sick before transmission to a second person occurs.

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Response by:

Gary   Roselle, MD Gary Roselle, MD
Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati