Acute bronchitis is most often caused by a virus and is contagious through both direct and indirect contact, according to Mayo Clinic. To minimize the risk of bronchitis infection, it is important to wash hands thoroughly and regularly, especially when in contact with sick people. Avoiding touching the eyes, nose and mouth can also prevent the spread of the virus causing the bronchitis infection.
Receiving an annual flu vaccination can minimize the risk of developing bronchitis, according to Mayo Clinic. Avoiding contact with sick individuals is also important to stop the spread of the viruses that cause bronchitis. For people over the age of 60, the American Lung Association recommends speaking with a doctor about receiving a pneumonia shot.
In some people, particularly those with asthma or chronic bronchitis, acute bronchitis may not be as contagious, according to Mayo Clinic. In these cases, the bronchitis is typically caused by a complication of the existing condition and is not as likely to be caused by an infection.
According to the American Lung Association, acute bronchitis can last from a few days to 10 days. However, the cough caused by acute bronchitis can last for several weeks following the infection. Symptoms of bronchitis include wheezing, coughing, a low fever, chest tightness and a shortness of breath.