The most common way to catch the flu is breathing air containing the virus. Coughing or sneezing is how the virus gets into the air. Flu also can be passed when someone touches someone or something that has living virus on it. In this case, the illness usually gains access to the body from the hand by mouth, entering through the gut.
Under warm and humid conditions, the influenza virus can remain infectious on surfaces like counter tops or doorknobs for a couple of days. During the winter, it can remain infectious in cold fresh water for up to a month. If you can avoid being around people sick with flu you may delay getting ill. However, if you are needed to provide care for a sick family member or friend with the virus, this strategy is not practical.
Ultimately, most people are likely to be exposed to the virus. It’s just a matter of time. Wearing latex gloves and an N-95 face mask when caring for the ill and changing your clothes, mask, gloves, and shoes when you leave a sick person’s area is a way to protect parts of the house where healthy people live. In truth, influenza is so infectious anyone taking care of sick folks in their homes will be exposed repeatedly to the virus no matter what measures they take. Activities like helping the patient to the bathroom, changing bed linen, and washing soiled clothes, or simply breathing the air in the vicinity of the sick leads to exposure. Since most people will have one or more sick family members or friends to care for it is unlikely to avoid being exposed.
Coughing And Hand Washing Etiquette Two simple but effective suggestions for reducing spread of the virus includes covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or handkerchief when coughing or blowing your nose and washing your hands after having any contact with a sick person. Coughing or sneezing into your hands is not recommended because then you are liable to spread the virus to anything you touch with them. Instead, if a handkerchief is unavailable, cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow or the sleeve of your upper arm. Use soap, water, and a face cloth to wash your hands or you can use the new waterless alcohol gel secondary.
To help reduce the presence of virus within the home, keep sick people clean and dry. The sick rooms, bed clothing and bathrooms need to be maintained in good condition. Ventilation of these areas is important, and if possible, natural light will improve the atmosphere. Soiled garments and bedclothes need to be washed and dried. It will be important to wash these soiled items in hot water using soap and chlorine bleach if possible. Drying these items in the sun takes advantage of the powerful antiseptic effect of ultraviolet light. Hard surfaces should be wiped clean using soap and water, and then sprayed with 1:10 bleach to water solution and wiped down a second time. Allow the bleach solution to stand on the surface for 30 seconds before removing it to help ensure that all the contagion is eliminated.
This technique will effectively remove all trace of infectious viral particles and bacteria from surfaces that come into contact with body fluids, vomit, and excrement.