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Steps Everyone Can Take to Prevent Coronavirus, the Flu, and Other Airborne Illnesses

The global community has spent a lot of time this year talking about COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that caused a worldwide pandemic. But before we faced this tragedy, we had plenty of other airborne illnesses to keep us busy.

At, we offer COVID-19 testing, a critical tool in understanding, detecting, tracing, and treating this pervasive virus. But as we head into flu season, we believe it’s important for conscientious citizens throughout the greater Atlanta, Georgia, area to take a refresher course on protecting ourselves from all airborne illnesses.

Common airborne illnesses

While COVID-19 rightfully gets a lot of press these days, there are several other airborne illnesses you need to know about so you can protect yourself and your family. Here are a few of the main culprits we battle every year here in the United States.


The flu virus constantly changes and there might be several strains in the air during flu season. If you have the flu virus, you can spread it to others a whole day before you even know you have it, and it remains contagious for about a week.

The flu vaccine, also known as the flu shot, may help you prevent the virus from taking hold and making you sick.

The common cold

True to its name, the common cold can attack anyone, anywhere. Although most often caused by the rhinovirus, there are several others that can live in the air you breathe and take up residence in your upper respiratory tract. 

To prevent the common cold, the best you can do is wash your hands well and frequently, and avoid touching your face, nose, and mouth. When you sneeze or cough, do it into the crook of your elbow or use a tissue and throw it away immediately. Stay away from people you know are sick.

Chicken pox

Caused by the varicella virus, chicken pox is a sneaky airborne illness. If you get it, you can unknowingly infect others up to two days before you show the symptoms, including the classic red rash. And once exposed, you may walk around for up to three weeks before those symptoms break out. Fortunately, the chicken pox vaccine is highly effective at preventing the disease. 

Mumps and measles

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that’s still prevalent around the world. In the United States, our widespread use of the vaccine has saved more than 23 million lives since 2000. But unvaccinated people are susceptible to this hardy airborne illness that stays in the air for two hours after the infected person has left the area.

Mumps, another contagious airborne illness, has declined dramatically in the US (only 70 cases were reported in January 2020) thanks to the vaccine, which is normally given along with the measles vaccine (MMR).

Whooping cough diphtheria

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, starts off like a common cold, so many sufferers don’t think much of it. But after a couple weeks, it turns into a hacking cough that’s especially dangerous to infants. Babies who get whooping cough and aren’t treated right away can develop pneumonia and brain damage, and it can be fatal. 

Two vaccines prevent pertussis: DTaP for young children, and Tdap for teens and adults. These protect against whooping cough, as well as diphtheria, another airborne illness, and tetanus.


Unlike the other airborne illnesses we’ve discussed, tuberculosis (TB) is caused by bacteria, not a virus. Many people with TB are asymptomatic, yet still contagious. More than 1.4 billion people around the world have TB, but only about 10 million have an active form of it.

You can prevent latent TB from becoming active by taking medication to stop it from progressing.


The disease getting the most attention for the last several months, COVID-19, comes from the novel coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. While this virus isn’t strictly considered an airborne disease, it can be contracted by breathing respiratory droplets from an infected person.

Classic airborne illnesses float around in the air all the time, but SARS-CoV-2 only hangs in the air for a few moments after someone who has the virus sneezes, coughs, speaks, or yells. 

Preventing airborne illnesses

As we mentioned, some airborne illnesses have vaccinations that can prevent the virus or bacteria from taking hold. In addition, follow common-sense habits, including:

  • Staying away from sick people
  • Staying home when you’re sick
  • Wear a face mask
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often
  • Don’t touch your face

Accepting patients in the Metro Atlanta area. We offer quick, effecient testing, vaccinations and sick visits. Walk in or Drive Thru with no wait. Book your appointment online today!

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