How long is viral sore throat contagious

Cold season Having a cold in the office: how long have I been contagious?

If you didn't catch a cold before Christmas, you could get infected wonderfully during the holidays: For example, when you met the coughing and sneezing fellow passengers on the trains on the way to your relatives or afterwards played with the cute but cold nephews and grandchildren . Winter time means high season for colds, flu and flu-like infections or, as doctors say, acute respiratory diseases (ARE).

How hard Germany sniffs and sniffs is monitored by the Grippeweb project from the Robert Koch Institute, the German authority for epidemic protection and infectious diseases. In the week before New Year's Eve, around 6.6 percent of all adults had an acute respiratory disease. Another 1.5 percent had cold symptoms as well as a fever and thus a flu-like infection.

Both figures are thus slightly below the previous year's figure. If the rates continue to be relatively similar to last season, then the number of new infections will increase significantly again in the coming weeks of January and February.

Severe symptoms equals a high risk of infection

If you get sick yourself, but want to protect your environment, colleagues at work or your own family from infection, you should consider a few things. The majority of all colds and flu-like infections are caused by viruses. "The incubation period is one to two days," says Professor Mathias Pletz, Director of the Center for Infection Medicine and Hospital Hygiene at the University Hospital in Jena. After that, the familiar symptoms usually appear: sore throat, runny nose, and later also cough.

How high the risk of infection is for others can be summed up in a simple rule of thumb: the more severe the symptoms, the more viruses are released into the environment. This means that at the beginning of the disease you are particularly contagious, towards the end you are less and less. In adults, this is usually four to five days from the onset of symptoms; in children it takes a little longer.

Contagious without being sick

However, there are also many people who develop no symptoms at all, even though they have the virus in them and are contagious for a few days. "A large part of the infections go unnoticed," says the virologist Roland Zell from the Jena University Hospital.

It is estimated that around 15 percent of the population becomes infected with the flu virus every year. In Germany that would be 12 million infections. But only a fraction of them actually get sick. "Only" a few thousand cases are reported to the Robert Koch Institute each year.

Roland Zell, Jena University Hospital

According to studies, children fall ill on average around six times a year from an infection that is transmitted via droplets, whereas those over 60 only get one or two times.

How to protect your environment and yourself

If you want to protect your work colleagues, you should only return to work after all symptoms have subsided. And if you still sneeze: in the crook of your elbow, not in your hand, because then you won't spread the ejected viruses even further on the surfaces you touch.

Thorough hand washing is recommended anyway, not forgetting the fingertips and spaces between the fingers. And regular ventilation is important because the small pathogens can also attach themselves to dust particles in the room air, for example. Anyone who shares work equipment with colleagues, such as computer keyboards and mice, should wipe them down with a disinfectant that is effective against viruses. The Robert Koch Institute has published a list of which agents are effective against which pathogens.