How long are you contagious with the flu?

Part 1 of flu series:

There have been so many medical articles about the flu this year. As of right now – 30 kids have already died from this flu version. Less than 10% of flu is covered by the flu vaccine this year. I’m going to share some of what I’ve learned with you this week.

Part I is how long will you be contagious.

The following is from the University of Minnesota:

“You’re probably contagious for a few hours before you get symptoms, but not for very long,” says Dr. Mark Schleiss, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

He says people who get influenza are generally contagious for three to four days after symptoms hit. The first 24 hours are the most contagious.

When it comes to colds, Dr. Schleiss says how long a person is contagious is harder to determine. While influenza generally comes on suddenly, the beginning of a cold can last for hours or days. He says people are generally contagious with most common colds for four to six days.

“My usual rule of thumb is to stay home until you’re not coughing, not running a fever and when you feel better and well enough to work,” he says.

The viruses are usually spread in different ways. Influenza is more likely to spread through droplets in the air. Researchers at MIT found sneezes can travel across a room, but the large droplets drop off by six feet.

“We have a three feet rule,” says Dr. Schleiss. “If you’re closer than three feet from someone, your chances go up substantially.”

Cold viruses are different. They are more likely to spread when infected hands touch a person’s eyes or nose. Studies of human behavior have found people touch their eyes and nose each day more often than they think.

Dr. Schleiss says viruses can also live on hard surfaces for several hours, but a person is more likely to catch a cold from shaking hands than from touching a doorknob.

He stresses people should get a flu shot, stay home when they’re sick and wash their hands more often than they think they should. The longer, the better.”


On a personal note-

I was sick for nearly 4 weeks and was sure I had the flu.  I had to have 2 flu swaps to confirm.  They were negative- it was a kid’s virus with the highest fever I’ve had as an adult, croup, infected airways and conjunctivitis. It was MISERABLE and my eye is still only open 1/2 way.  It’s a lousy year for viruses.







  • Samuel Posted December 28, 2019 9:18 am

    How effective is wearing a mask when you have the flu?

    • mm
      Carol Miletti Posted July 31, 2020 2:31 am

      I would wear one during flu season if I were going to fly, ride in public transportation, or knowingly be exposed to someone who already has the flu.
      My best this coming flu/pandemic season

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *