February 6, 2009


I just wanted to give some logical answers to some questions I have received lately. Most of you know that I love science, & germs. I am far from being a doctor but I love, read, and study the science of medicine. Since my kids have been sick, I thought I would clear the air about some misconceptions about germs, and sickness.

Q: How long after antibiotics are started are you considered no longer contagious?
A: 24 hours, though most doctors say 48 (just to be safe!)

Q: How long can a virus live outside of the body?
A: The length of time that cold or flu germs can survive outside the body on an environmental surface, such as a doorknob, varies greatly. But the suspected range is from a few seconds to 48 hours — depending on the specific virus and the type of surface.

Flu viruses tend to live longer on surfaces than cold viruses do. Also, it's generally believed that cold and flu viruses live longer on nonporous surfaces — such as plastic, metal or wood — than they do on porous surfaces — such as fabrics, skin or paper.

Although cold and flu viruses primarily spread from person-to-person contact, you can also become infected from contact with contaminated surfaces. The best way to avoid becoming infected with a cold or flu is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water or with an alcohol-based sanitizer.

Q: Can exposure to cold weather make me sick?
A: The truth is, the flu and the common cold are caused by viruses. People get sick more often in the winter because they are exposed to each other more in the winter than in the summer. When it is cold outside, people tend to stay inside and are more likely to spread germs to one another. Also, because school is in session, kids are around each other all day and are not afraid to share their germs. With so many people in such close contact, the likelihood of passing germs is much higher when it is cold outside than when it is warm and people are outdoors. There is also evidence now that viruses spread more easily through dry air. When it is cold outside, the air is drier both outdoors and inside (where people have their heaters on) which may make it easier for germs to pass from one person to another. But it is not the cold weather that causes the cold, it just might make it easier to spread the virus.


Nicole O'Dell

Interesting! :)


Thank you for the info. I did not know about the germs spread easier in dry air. I wouldn't think it mattered.

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