For the first time, researchers found that influenza remains highly stable and infectious in aerosols in various levels of humidity, suggesting that mucus and other airway secretions protect the virus when it is expelled, according to study findings published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The results are contrary to the prevailing wisdom that influenza loses infectivity as humidity increases, researchers said.

“I was astonished. The flu virus remained just as infectious at all humidity levels,” Seema S. Lakdawala, PhD, assistant professor in the department of microbiology and molecular genetics at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, said in a news release. “The airway secretions were protecting it for at least the length of time it would take a typical home to exchange most of its air.”