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James M. Steckelberg, M.D.read biographyclose window
James M. Steckelberg, M.D.James Steckelberg, M.D.
Dr. James Steckelberg is a consultant in the Division of Infectious Diseases and a professor of medicine at Mayo Medical School.
A native of Fremont, Neb., Dr. Steckelberg was a Rhodes Scholar and graduated from the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine as a resident in internal medicine and a fellow in infectious diseases, and is board certified in both. He is the former director of the Infectious Diseases Research Laboratory at Mayo Clinic.
Dr. Steckelberg belongs to numerous professional organizations. He is a founding member of the Musculoskeletal Infection Society and a fellow of the American College of Physicians and of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He has served on many Mayo Clinic committees and is a member of the Department of Medicine Leadership Committee and of the executive committee of the Division of Infectious Diseases. He also served on the editorial boards of "Mayo Clinic Proceedings" and "Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy" and has been an editorial reviewer for more than a dozen publications.
Dr. Steckelberg's research interests include experimental models of infection, epidemiology of infection, and antimicrobial resistance and therapy of bacterial infections.
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Flu germs: How long can they live outside the body?
How long do cold and flu germs stay alive after infected people cough and sneeze all over everything?
from James M. Steckelberg, M.D.
It varies, depending partly on where the germ-laden droplets fall. Experiments with specific cold and flu germs have shown potential survival times ranging from a few minutes to 48 hours or more. How long such germs remain capable of infecting you in day-to-day life is harder to say.
Germs generally remain active longer on stainless steel, plastic and similar hard surfaces than on fabric and other soft surfaces. Other factors, such as the amount of virus deposited on a surface and the temperature and humidity of the environment, also have effects on how long cold and flu germs stay active outside the body.
It's easy to catch the flu or a cold from rubbing your nose after handling an object an infected person sneezed on a few moments ago. But personal contact with an infected person — a handshake, for example — is the most common way these germs spread.
The best way to avoid becoming infected with a cold or flu virus is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water or with an alcohol-based sanitizer. Also avoid rubbing your eyes or biting your nails. Most importantly — get a flu vaccine every year.Next question
What's the difference between H1N1 flu and influenza A?
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- Weber TP, et al. Inactivation of influenza A viruses in the environment and modes of transmission: A critical review. 2008;57:361.
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- CDC says "Take 3" actions to fight the flu. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/preventing.htm. Accessed Dec. 29, 2011.