Touching objects and faces a common way to spread flu virus

Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay
Published: Jan. 11, 2018 at 5:30 PM EST
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(01/11/18) - The flu is running rampant this month with widespread activity in nearly every state in the Continental U.S.

Many people don't know some of their everyday seemingly involuntary behaviors are helping it spread and putting them at risk of contracting the illness.

Researchers say the average person touches their face 3.6 times per hour on average and touches common objects 3.3 times per hour.

Touching any common object shared with others can allow germs to transfer to hands. Then touching faces can allow the germs into the body.

"In an office setting, one person can get it and spread it everybody else," said Matthew Kaanelos, a physicians assistant at AMD Urgent Care in Clio.

He has seen a packed clinic for the past few weeks with people suffering from flu-like symptoms.

"It's extremely contagious," Kannelos said. "It's spread by the air we breath. You can spread it via door handles, sinks, things like that."

Viruses can linger on hard surfaces for days after an infected person touches them.

"Certain fungal infections can live on surfaces for weeks at a time," Kaanelos said. "Viral infections like the flu not as long, but a couple of days."

Besides getting a flu shot, he said the best ways to avoid the flu are handwashing, disinfecting surfaces and, as hard as it may be, not touching your face.

"If you yourself are not sick, handwashing and keeping your hands away from your face are the best way to prevent this," said Kaanelos.

He also recommends carrying a bottle of antibacterial hand gel this time of year.