Contagious germs can remain airborne for up to 45 minutes after a sneeze or cough, a new study claims.
Expelled bacteria can travel more than 12 feet and stay viable for nearly an hour after being coughed.
This new study is believed to be the first on the longevity of pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria, a multi-drug resistant germ associated with hospital-acquired infections.
Now scientists are using these findings to learn how to prevent colds during peak flu seasons, especially in hospitals.
This research backs up health experts’ advice to always cover the mouth when sneezing or coughing in order to help stop the spread of these germs.
Contagious germs can remain airborne for up to 45 minutes after a sneeze and travel up to more than 12 feet, a new study found
The study was conducted by Australian researchers at the International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and The Prince Charles Hospital.
They were investigating how bacteria could infect people after long periods of time.
Researchers said they believe pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria are still contagious because they are resistant to rapid biological decay, opposed to other germs.
Infections caused by pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria are more prone to happen to people who have been hospitalized for more than a week, due to their weakened immune system.
Symptoms of an infection include pneumonia, meningitis, fever, difficulty breathing and fatigue, among several others.
WHY SOME PEOPLE SNEEZE AFTER SEX
Do you laugh, cry, sneeze, twitch or itch after intimate moments? You are not alone.
Researchers have identified a phenomenon – and called it the peri-orgasm – to describe the uncontrollable psychological or physical sensations that some people experience after sex.
Symptoms include flu-like effects that last for days, a three-hour headache, panic attacks and ear pain.
It is not clear how common it is, but one small study highlighted by researchers who reported their findings in the Sexual Medicines Review found that ten out of 47 women had such responses.
Among men, sneezing was one of the more common symptoms.
The report from the University of Maryland also recorded that some people have hallucinations or altered consciousness.
It’s thought such behavior is caused by misfires in the nervous system, with the parasympathetic nervous system sending signals to the wrong places.
The report said: ‘The diversity of the phenomena is notable, and they have little in common other than that they all relate to the physiology of orgasm.’
Director of the Laboratory Professor Lidia Morawska said: ‘As soon as cough droplets hit the air they rapidly dry out, cool and become light enough to stay airborne.
‘They also partly degrade through contact with oxygen in the air, with larger droplets taking much longer to evaporate.
‘We found that the concentration of active bacteria in the dried droplets showed rapid decay with a 10-second half-life for most of the bacteria but a subset of bacteria had a half-life of more than 10 minutes.’
Morawska added that these drug-resistant droplets are formed in different parts of the respiratory system and are resistant to decay.
Sneezing is the body’s way of eliminating irritants or a foreign body from the nasal passages.
Experts advise people to sneeze or cough into the crook of one’s arms instead of the hands to avoid spreading bacteria.
In general, people sneeze for four reasons.
First, when they have a cold, to help clear their nose. Second, when they have allergic rhinitis (hay fever), to eliminate allergens from nasal passages.
Third, people with vasomotor rhinitis, a condition characterized by chronic runny nose, also sneeze occasionally.
The fourth common cause of sneezing is NARES (no allergic rhinitis with eosinophilia syndrome). People with this condition have the symptoms of chronic rhinitis but do not test positive for allergens.
Although it is usually unwelcome and involuntary, a cough in itself is not an illness. It may be irritating but, generally, it is a protective reflex.
The reflex kicks in when the membranes that line the respiratory tract secrete excessive mucus or phlegm.
This helps to protect your airways from infections and irritants by trapping and flushing out viruses, bacteria and foreign particles.