Flu: How long is it contagious?

The flu typically spreads in a rapid manner due to its contagious nature. The flu quickly spreads in schools and even in the workplace. It is important to note that the flu is known for its contagious nature.

Contagious nature

When a certain condition is considered contagious, it can readily pass from one individual to another. How contagious an individual is usually depends on the bacteria or virus responsible.

If an individual acquired the flu, it is considered highly contagious from one day before developing symptoms through 5-7 days after the symptoms start. A concerning issue is that children can spread the virus for a longer time, usually more than 7 days in some cases.


An individual with the flu should cover his/her mouth while coughing.

One of the reasons why the condition rapidly spreads is because it is contagious before the individual is aware of having the condition. It simply means that the individual could be exposed to the virus one day and 2 days later he/she is already spreading it to others, but the sick feeling does not occur until the 3rd day.

What to do if I have the flu?

Once an individual has been diagnosed with the flu, it is best to stay home. Avoid going to work or send the child to school. This will only put others at risk including those who might not easily recover from the condition.

A doctor should be consulted regarding suitable treatment options. If the individual is at high risk for complications such as pneumonia or bronchitis, an antiviral medication might be prescribed to reduce the severity of the symptoms as well as the duration of the illness.

The antiviral medications will not change whether or not the individual is contagious. Unlike with antibiotics that eliminate bacteria and prevents the spread of the illness, the antiviral medications will not kill the virus responsible for the flu. Remember that the individual is still contagious even if any of these medications are used.

Preventive measures

An individual with the flu should cover his/her mouth while coughing. Even if there are no people around, coughing can spread the microorganism up to 6 feet. It is recommended to cough into the elbow to prevent the spread and will not transfer onto the hands

If the individual acquired the flu, it is best to stay away from others as long as he/she is contagious or there is a possibility.