Local doctor answers questions on how to successfully fight the flu

Virus can live up to 24 hours outside of body on hard surfaces

SAN ANTONIO – One place the flu virus loves to hang out is the office, the big risk coming from what are called "shared surfaces".

With every cough, sneeze, and wiped nose, the flu virus can live up to 24 hours outside the body on hard surfaces.

Like many workplaces stuffed full of people and their crud, Dr. Sebrina Perkins with the Methodist Children's Hospital Emergency Department says the danger from flu starts the moment you arrive.

"In fact, before you even arrived, when you came to the door, remember several of your coworkers have come in, and who knows if they contracted the flu," Perkins said.

Door knobs, elevator buttons and even handrails are a high risk.

"Imagine you're gonna be contacting that (the virus) all the way up," Perkins said of handrails.

The solution?

Perkins says for these daily rituals "You want to try to use to use your forearm, your elbow, [and just] get creative."

Having hand sanitizer placed around commonly used objects is a good idea as well, according to Perkins.

It's not always obvious.

Head to the break room and think of who actually washes their hands before pouring a cup of coffee.

At KSAT 12, before the lunch rush, we saw five people use the fridge in 20 minutes.

"We tend to use our hands and bring it to our nose and our mouth area, and that's when we're able to inhale and take that virus in," Perkins said.

When washing your hands, Perkins recommends scrubbing for a good 20 seconds.

Even if no one is sniffling in the daily meeting, the virus can spread two days before someone shows symptoms.

Studies show you aren't safe from someone's germs until you are chatting from six feet away.

Disinfecting wipes and spray go a long way to clean surfaces.

"Maybe [spray] will get into those crevices and areas that are not easy to access with the wipe," Perkins said.

Beyond the flu shot, prevention at home centers on taking care of yourself.

"[Eat] a nice balanced diet. Make sure, you know, you're getting your meals in consistently. Stay hydrated. It's really important to make sure we're not tired, get plenty of rest, so that if we do contract [the flu] we have the best chance for our body to try to fight it off."