With flu season approaching, it’s not just parents bracing for an outbreak at their children’s schools, adults are also highly susceptible at work and in other public places.
The flu is a respiratory infection accompanied by fever and often respiratory complications that is transmitted from person to person, either through personal contact, or through contact with a contaminated surface. Individuals who have contracted the virus are contagious at least one day prior to displaying symptoms, and up to seven days after they first appear.
“Influenza is a serious viral infection, and the toll on public health each year related to influenza is significant,” said Dr. John Hanlin, vice president of public health and food safety at Ecolab. “Fortunately, there are a number of important measures that you, your family and your business colleagues can take to reduce the risk of influenza.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services attributes as much as $7 billion in losses for U.S. businesses each year as a result of workers’ sick days and lost productivity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates between 3,000 and 49,000 deaths and more than 200,000 hospitalizations each year depending upon the severity of the flu season. People at high risk for developing flu-related complications include children under 5, adults 65 or older, pregnant women, residents of nursing homes and other long-term care centers, and people who have medical conditions such as asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease and blood disorders.
Because the flu virus can survive up to 48 hours on stainless steel and plastic surfaces, and up to 12 hours on cloth, paper and tissues, proper cleaning and disinfecting can minimize the chances of individuals contracting the virus from a contaminated surface.
Getting a flu vaccine and taking anti-viral medications as prescribed if you do contract the flu are two ways the CDC advocates stopping the spread of flu germs. Another vital factor in protecting yourself from the flu is preventing its spread.
Proper hand hygiene
Hand-washing is essential to preventing an influenza contamination. Proper hand-washing helps remove most bacteria, viruses and other pathogens, so they can’t be spread to others. The CDC recommends these steps:
· Wet hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap and apply soap.
· Rub hands together to lather the soap. Clean the backs of hands, between fingers and under nails.
· Scrub for at least 20 seconds.
· Rinse well under clean, running water.
· Dry with a clean towel or air dry.
· Before using hand sanitizer, remove any dirt from hands with soap and water. Apply product to palm and rub hands together until it disappears (15-20 seconds).
Extra care in the kitchen
Because flu and cold viruses can spread easily to foods and beverages, it’s especially important to promote hand-washing in the kitchen. The Food and Drug Administration suggests:
· Plan food preparation activities to reduce the number of times hands need to be washed.
· Use soap and water, which is more effective in removing foodborne pathogens than hand sanitizers.
For additional information on how Ecolab can help you and your business prepare for the flu season, visit ecolab.com/pages/flu.
6 Ways to Minimize Exposure to the Flu
1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
2. Stay home when you are sick.
3. Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.
4. Wash hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based, waterless hand sanitizer frequently.
5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
6. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
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