That means that if you are unlucky enough to get the flu, "staying home and out of public spaces could make a difference", Ehrman said.
The research shows that some people can exhale or cough high quantities of live virus particles - up to 1,000 in 30 minutes, said Jovan Pantelic, who was part of the research team on the 10-million-U.S. -dollar study on transmission of the flu.
And the flu, which poses the most threat to the very young and very old, has killed the types of people who aren't considered as susceptible to the virus.
The frightening results found a presence of infectious virus in 39 percent of samples taken from subjects during natural breathing.
Until now, it was thought that people picked up a flu virus when they touched contaminated surfaces or inhaled droplets in the air ejected by an infected person's coughs or sneezes.
'I would like people in my work place who are coming down with the flu to please go home and not infect me'.
In fact, almost half (48 percent) of the airborne samples captured in the air around flu patients who were just breathing - not coughing or sneezing - contained detectable influenza virus, the researchers noted.
Flu can be spread by breathing also
A total of 218 nasopharyngeal swabs and 218 samples of exhaled breath, spontaneous coughing, and sneezing collected on the first, second, and third day after the onset of symptoms were analysed.
Nearly half (48%) of the 23 fine aerosol samples collected during normal breathing contained viral RNA and nearly three quarters of these (73%) also contained infectious virus.
Researchers say their study provides "overwhelming evidence" the flu virus becomes an aerosol - tiny droplets suspended in the air for a long time, like spray paint - just through normal breathing.
Surprisingly, 11 (48%) of the 23 fine aerosol samples acquired in the absence of coughing had detectable viral RNA and 8 of these 11 contained infectious virus, suggesting that coughing was not necessary for infectious aerosol generation in the fine aerosol droplets.
Researchers found influenza patients rarely sneezed.
The researchers believe their findings could help improve mathematical models of the risk of airborne flu transmission and could also be used to develop better public health flu prevention measures.
Speaking to Daily Mail Online, lead author Dr Donald Milton said he urges anyone to stay home if they have a fever, cough and sore throat and "feel pretty lousy".
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