(WJBK) - If the flu hasn't hit your family yet, you probably at least know someone who is suffering. Now there's a startling new warning from health officials that you can catch the bug just from breathing.
A study from the Centers for Disease Control says when someone with the flu breathes, tiny particles containing the virus go into the air and they can stay suspended in the air for minutes even hours.
Dr. Shaun Jayaker of St. John's Hospital knows first hand what his patients with the flu are going through. Every year about this time there seems to be a flu hype, but the doc says this time it's for good reason.
"This is one of the worst flu seasons I've experienced since I've been a doctor for the past 10 or so years," he said.
This flu season we are finding out new information about the nasty bug from the CDCl. A new study shows it's easier to catch than originally thought. You can get it by simply breathing air from an infected person.
"It makes sense to me that if you do talk there's definitely going to be droplets transmitted," Jayaker said.
Initially, scientists thought the virus had to be spread through larger particles from sneezing or coughing, but the study showed tiny particles containing the flu virus come out when the person breathes. The scary part - those particles can stay in the air for minutes even hours.
"It just gives everyone that much more precautionary measures they need to take," Jayaker said.
If someone in your home has the flu, here's a bit of advice from the doctor to keep you healthy:
"You might want to go isolate yourself on a different floor of the house or a different room if possible," he said.
If you already have been directly exposed, he says you can go to the doctor and get a drug called Tamiflu for prophylaxis.
The CDC says 100 people a week since mid December have died from the flu nationwide, including an elderly patient of Jayakers in metro Detroit. He says it's not too late for a flu shot.