Seasonal influenza (or Flu season as I like to call it) refers to the periodic outbreaks of respiratory illness in the fall and winter, usually between November and April. Influenza is an enveloped or easy to kill virus that is readily neutralized by disinfectants available today. The Flu is primarily spread through large droplets -picture your colleague that just sneezed or coughed without covering his mouth or better yet that close talker who is forever spraying you in the face while she talks! These droplets can directly come in contact with the nose, mouth or eyes and infect you. The upside is that large droplets can only travel a limited range, less than 6 feet so if you limit close contact you can limit the chance of getting infected.
While to a lesser degree, influenza can also be spread by touching objects contaminated with influenza viruses and then transferring the infected material from the hands to the nose, mouth or eyes. High touch hand contact surfaces such as door knobs, light switches, telephones, keyboards, etc should be cleaned and disinfected frequently. I would also say that for Flu Season, the chair you sit on at Flu Shot clinics should also be considered high touch…do you know how many hands were on it before you sat down? During Flu season you can help stop the spread by cleaning and disinfecting your work areas before going on breaks, lunch and prior to leaving at the end of the day.
Proper hygiene (disinfecting hands and surfaces) and practicing social distancing is the primary means to help stop the spread of seasonal or pandemic influenza. Approximately 80% of infections are transmitted by hands. Frequent washing of hands with both soap and water or alcohol hand sanitizers is the single most effective way of limiting the spread of influenza. Hands should be washed after blowing ones nose, after covering your mouth after coughing or sneezing, after using the bathroom and prior to eating or drinking. Social distancing means reducing the frequency, proximity, and duration of contact between people (both employees and customers) to reduce the chances of spreading influenza from person-to-person. While this is not always possible we can take the opportunity to turn our heads and cover our mouth and nose with our elbows when we cough and sneeze. Using our elbows to cover our mouth and nose helps to keep our hands free of germs which could spread disease. Or better yet, get creative and use the back of your leg as demonstrated in this spoof on Hand Hygiene. We had a good chuckle and we hope you have a good laugh too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tkojSW7lqY
Most importantly and the reason for today’s blog - GET VACCINATED! The annual Flu shot can help reduce your chance of getting seasonal flu by 80%. It also reduces the chance that you’ll make me sick and in my mind that’s worth it!