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Can cold and flu live on surfaces?


Am I really in danger of catching a cold or flu from objects a sick person has handled?

3301 day(s) ago

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NotEinstein
Yes. In fact, a group of doctors in Maine made this video to encourage habits that reduce the chance of spreading germs through indirect contact:


First off, flu is always caused by a virus. Colds can be caused by viruses or bacteria. However, the way these diseases are handles are similar.

It's hard to say how long a virus or bacteria will live because there are a lot of variables involved. A flu virus can live from a few minutes to two days outside of a human body, but the majority live between two and eight hours. Cold viruses and bacteria generally can't live for more than six hours outside of the body. There are some general guidelines:

Both flu and colds survive longer in humid environments. They will quickly die out in air with less than ten percent humidity.

Viruses and bacteria can live longer on non-porous surfaces like metal than they can on porous surfaces like fabric and wood.

Colds are mainly spread by surface contact, while the flu is spread by airborne contact through sneezing and coughing. The droplets from sneeze can spread the virus or bacteria onto objects in roughly a three-foot wide area.

Triclosan-treated materials, often marketed under the "Microban" name, prevent fat synthesis in bacteria but have no effect on viruses.

While you may pick up the virus or bacteria on your hand, it generally enters the body through your nose or eyes. This happens when you touch an infected surface like a doorknob, then scratch your face. Consistent hand washing is key in stopping this transfer.

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