Eliminate the Spread of the Flu Virus in the Workplace; Precautions Like Hand-washing Can Minimize Risk

By Mary Morton, affirmative action officer, Office of the President

February 8, 2013

washing handsIt’s that time of year when reported cases of the flu virus are on the rise…and reports indicate that this year’s influenza outbreak is quite severe.

This is a reminder that faculty, staff and students should take precautions to help eliminate the spread of the flu virus. Below are some tips and advice that may be helpful.

How to Avoid the Spread of the Flu

There are a number of steps everyone can take to minimize the risk and spread of the flu virus and other influenza-like illnesses. A lot of this is common sense, but it is worth repeating:

  1. Social distancing helps to reduce the risk and spread of illness. Consider canceling attendance at public events, coming to work and/or temporarily suspending group studies if suffering flu-like symptoms.
  2. Practice good hand hygiene. Wash hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  3. Practice respiratory etiquette. The main way flu spreads is from person to person in droplets produced by coughs and sneezes, so it’s important to cover the mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and promptly dispose of the tissue in a covered trash bin. If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into elbow or shoulder, not hands.
  4. Keep hands away from face. Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth.
  5. Clean shared space more often, such as phone receivers, keyboards, steering wheels and office equipment. Have disinfectant wipes on hand to clean areas; don’t rely on janitorial services to do this.
  6. Refrain from sharing personal items such as forks, spoons and towels.
  7. Stay at home if sick especially with a temperature of 100 degrees or higher, or symptoms of flu-like illness and stay there until fever-free for 24-hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  8. Talk to health care provider about whether you should be vaccinated. People at higher risk for flu complications include pregnant women, young children, the elderly and individuals with underlying medical conditions such as asthma and diabetes.