How Long Can the Flu Virus Live outside the Body?

How long the flu virus, or influenza virus, can live outside the body varies depending on the infected surface. For example, the virus can live for as long as 12 hours on porous materials such as tissue or cloth. Nonporous materials, such as wood or metal, can carry a live flu virus for as long as 48 hours after being infected. If a surface is wet, that can increase the life of the virus to 72 hours outside the body. The flu virus tends to live on skin for only a couple of minutes, but it can spread rapidly during that time from contact with the hands or other parts of the body.

More about the flu virus :

  • The flu virus is thought to be able to travel as far as 6 feet (1.83 m) when an infected person blows his or her nose or sneezes.

  • The surfaces that most commonly harbor live flu viruses include refrigerator handles, telephones and television remote controls.

  • As much as 15% of the world's population is infected with the flu virus in any given year.

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