How Cold & Flu Viruses Spread

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The flu and common cold are contagious respiratory illnesses caused by viruses. Most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning 1 or 2 days before symptoms develop and up to a week after becoming sick.

To help stop the spread, follow these helpful tips:

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The single most effective thing you can do to avoid the flu is to get vaccinated every year. 

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The best way to avoid catching a cold is to wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer will suffice if water and soap are unavailable.

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To avoid spreading colds and the flu, people should stay away from sick people and stay home if possible when sick.

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Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick should not be shared without washing thoroughly first. 

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Frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected at home, work, and school, especially if someone is ill.

If you have any remaining questions, please contact your healthcare provider.