VERIFY: Can double dipping spread the flu?
NEW ORLEANS - With the Saints game Thursday night, many people will be gathering at watch parties, and with the flu going around Louisiana at a high rate, Eyewitness News posed the question about the virus spreading in those chip-and-dip bowls, especially when people double dip.
So Eyewitness News decided to verify.
Many people remember the exchange over dip in the Seinfeld show:
"What are you doing?"
- "Did you just double dip that chip? Excuse me?"
- "You double dipped that chip."
The famous George Costanza dip scene was memorable and funny, but it wasn't so funny when a Tulane University study came out three years ago suggesting that there is an 18 percent rise in flu deaths in seniors in the Super Bowl teams' cities. There is a lot of togetherness in close quarters, and double dipping.
"You took a bite and you dipped again, so that's like putting your whole mouth in the dip," the Seinfeld scene continues.
So with Christmas parties starting, Eyewitness News decided to verify: Can double dipping spread the flu? We turned to Dr. Jim Aiken, LSU Health Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and the School of Public Health. First, what do scientific studies say is the most likely way to spread the flu?
"What we know for a fact is that people transmit the virus by aerosol, and by that we mean the moist air that comes out of people's lungs when we cough or sneeze," said Dr. Aiken.
Influenza virus particles fly six feet away and can go directly into our nose, eyes and mouth, or they can land on surfaces, stay alive for hours, that we pick up through touch on our hands. We then transmit into our eyes, nose or mouth. But what about that double dipping?
"It could make sense that the virus is transmitted that way, but classically the virus is too fragile to be transmitted by food to the GI tract," he said.
So according to our medical expert, this is verified, it's not likely but it is possible.
The doctor says the best things you can do to prevent the spread of the flu virus is wash your hands, and sneeze or cough into the elbow area of your arm.