How does the flu spread?

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The flu is highly contagious. All it takes is for someone to cough or sneeze for the virus to spread.  

Here at the top three ways you usually catch the flu:

  •     Simply being near someone who is sick who sneezes, coughs or talks and spreads infected droplets.
  •     Drinking from the same cup or sharing a utensil.
  •     Touching a germy surface and then touching your eyes or mouth.

The CDC says the flu virus can spread to other people up to 6 feet away. And you can pass the virus to someone before you even know you're sick.

"Somebody can be contagious with influenza up to a day prior to developing symptoms. Symptoms typically present as sneezing and coughing and so on, and up to seven days post-developing those symptoms, so the flu virus can be fairly contagious over a long period of time," said Dr. Assil Saleh, an internist.

Even though we're already into the flu season, it's not too late to get your shot. Doctors say that's the best way to protect yourself against this year's aggressive strain.

Also wash your hands often, stay home if you're sick, and use cleaning products to get rid of germs to minimize the risk.

Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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