Flu Fighting Tips for Work and Home
By Dr. John Hanlin, Ecolab Vice President, Global Public Health
Think the seasonal flu is no big deal? Think again. Seasonal influenza (the flu) is a serious and contagious respiratory infection, generally transmitted from one person to another or from contact with surfaces contaminated with the flu virus. Symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.
In North America, the flu season generally occurs from November to April. The impact of seasonal flu can vary year to year, but up to 20 percent of the U.S. population acquires the flu each year.
The flu can have a significant impact on businesses as well. The potential for staff shortages, productivity losses and pressures and costs on healthcare services can be significant. Now is the time to take steps to prevent and protect against the flu.
Wash your hands frequently
Proper hand hygiene is essential to preventing influenza. Proper hand washing helps remove bacteria, viruses and other pathogens so they can’t be spread to others. Ecolab recommends:
- Washing hands often with soap and water.
- After washing with soap and water, dry hands thoroughly with single-use paper towels. Hand washing and the drying of hands should last for at least 40-60 seconds each time.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when hand washing with soap and water is not possible. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers reduce the amount of influenza virus on contaminated hands.
Avoid others that are sick & stay home if you're sick
For the flu to be transmitted, the virus must travel from one individual to another person. Individuals who have contracted the flu virus are contagious at least one day prior to displaying symptoms and up to seven days after they first appear. You can reduce the risk of transmission by avoiding others who are sick. You also can avoid spreading the virus by staying home if you're sick.
Get a flu shot
The flu vaccination is one of the most effective forms of protection against seasonal flu.
Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing
Coughing and sneezing into your elbow or a tissue helps protect others. If you do have seasonal flu and do not cover your nose or mouth, people within six feet can be infected.
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 contracting the virus from a contaminated surface. To properly clean, disinfect and protect your environment:
- Clean any visible soil from surfaces before disinfecting. When cleaning and disinfecting, work from top to bottom and from cleaner to more heavily soiled surfaces.
- Thoroughly wet the surface with a disinfectant that has an Influenza A claim and follow label instructions.
- Disinfect frequently touched hard surfaces often, including tables, chairs, light switches and door handles.
- Give extra attention to frequently touched surfaces in food preparation areas and restrooms, including light switches, faucets, toilet flush levers, door knobs and handrails.
Wash your tableware thoroughly
Eating utensils, dishes and glassware should be thoroughly washed in a dishwasher or by hand with water and detergent.
- For additional information on influenza, visit Ecolab's Influenza page
- For more information on flu prevention, visit Ecolab's Flu Prevention page.
- Flu prevention information from the CDC.
About Dr. John Hanlin
Dr. John Hanlin supports Ecolab’s strategic public health initiatives and his subject matter expertise in public health and food safety provides the foundation for an enterprise-wide view of infection prevention and contamination control strategies.
A trusted partner at nearly three million customer locations, Ecolab (ECL) is the global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies and services that protect people and vital resources. With annual sales of $14 billion and 48,000 associates, Ecolab delivers comprehensive solutions, data-driven insights and on-site service to promote safe food, maintain clean environments, optimize water and energy use and improve operational efficiencies for customers in food, healthcare, energy, hospitality and industrial markets in more than 170 countries around the world. For more information, visit www.ecolab.com.
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