Flu season is no joke, and this year people are especially nervous about the virus. Now, there’s even more reason to be wary of the flu: It might spread more easily than people realize.
In fact, the flu may be spread just by breathing. That’s the major takeaway from a new University of Maryland study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In the study, researchers captured the flu virus in the exhaled breath of 142 people with confirmed cases of the flu while they breathed naturally, spoke, coughed, and sneezed. Then the researchers assessed the breath for infectiousness. The study participants also provided 218 nose and throat swabs and 218 30-minute samples of their breath on the first, second, and third days after they began experiencing symptoms.