How Does Swine Flu Spread?

Dr. Michelle Barron answers the question: 'How Does Swine Flu Spread?'

ByMichelle Barron, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine, Infectious Disease, University of Colorado
September 25, 2008, 9:56 AM

May 27, 2009 -- Question: How does swine flu spread?

Answer: So swine flu, like most influenza viruses, is spread through a mechanism we call droplets. So anytime you cough or sneeze, that little bit of spit that comes out is what we call droplets. It can be suspended in the air for a few minutes, but typically won't stay in the air for long periods of time, but then lands on surfaces. Once it lands on a surface, it can sometimes live up to a day, usually only a few hours depending the conditions that you actually have.

The way it actually spreads is that your hands then come into contact with this droplets on the surfaces, and then you touch your nose, or touch your mouth, or touch your eyes like we do frequently, and it allows the virus to come into contact with the inner linings of these areas which is called your mucosal surfaces. And that's where the virus can attach and then begin to spread and cause infection.

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