Doctors tell you to stay home when you have the flu so you don’t get other people sick. But how long do you have to shut yourself away? Here’s how to know when you can be out and about again.
How long can I spread it?
About a week. You’re contagious from 1 day before you have any symptoms. You stay that way for 5 to 7 days after you start feeling sick. Kids may be able to spread the virus for even longer, until all of their symptoms fade.
How do I spread it?
Most of the time, it’s through droplets in the air. Sick people sneeze or cough out beads of moisture that contain the flu virus. They can travel up to 6 feet. You’re exposed to the flu virus when you breathe the droplets in, or if they land in your mouth, nose, or eyes. You can also get it if you touch a place those droplets land -- like a desk, counter, or doorknob -- and then touch your face. The virus can live on hard surfaces for up to 48 hours.