Program Note: Tune in tonight for Randi Kaye's full report on AC360° tonight at 10 p.m. ET.
Randi Kaye | Bio
Riding the subway in New York City these days has taken on a whole new “yuck” factor.
With swine flu cases in Queens, NY and so many other parts of the country and the world, a lot of people are asking themselves, “Can I get it?”
Well, if you’re near anyone who sneezes who has the flu, the answer is you could. We rode the subway today with a doctor from Lenox Hospital in New York City and he really gave us an earful about what’s going on in our noses when we sneeze. We got a good visual about what happens when you sneeze and how germs spread human to human so easily, which is what the experts say is happening with the swine flu.
Turns out, a sneeze sends all that goopy stuff flying at about 100 miles an hour in your direction. He says a single sneeze sprays anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000 droplets of pure germ. Gross! And this stuff hangs in the air for up to a minute so even if you’re not within the three to five feet that the sneeze immediately hits, you may still be affected if you walk over to that area within a minute or so.
Here’s the really gross part. If someone sneezes into their hand on a subway train and then grabs the pole to hang on or a seat to sit down on, they will deposit those germs on the pole and the seat. We shot a demonstration of this for our story tonight while riding the subway .
The next unsuspecting commuter will pick them up without even knowing they are there. Our expert, Dr. Len Horovitz, told me those germs can survive up to 24 hours. Pretty hardy, eh? That means even if you weren’t in the subway car that day, if you get in that car the next day and sit in the sneezer’s seat or hold onto the same pole, look out!
Bottom line, germs are tough and they live longer than you might expect. Trouble is they’re also invisible so they spread without anyone even knowing it.
Best advice, do not touch your face, especially your eyes or your mouth, after being around public transportation or sneezing or coughing. Wash your hands as soon as you get home or into the office!
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with