How far do germs travel after a sneeze? It's farther than you think

Sneezes abound during cold and flu season, and those sneezes are vehicles for germs — in some cases, sneezes can spread germs up to 26 feet away, according to research in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers from Cambridge, Mass.-based MIT used high-speed imaging to record sneezes and slowed the video down to see how far sneeze droplets traveled. While the largest droplets from the sneeze settled about 3 to 6 feet away from the sneezer, smaller and evaporating droplets remain suspended longer and can wind up 26 feet away.

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"The smaller and evaporating droplets are trapped in the turbulent puff cloud, remain suspended, and, over the course of second to a few minutes, can travel the dimensions of a room and land up to [19 to 26 feet] away," the study reads.

"We say distance is a barrier," Scott Davies, MD, the chief of the department of medicine at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, told the Star Tribune. "When someone isn't feeling well but they're not staying home, we like to keep 3 feet of distance."

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