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Protecting Your Office Environment from the Flu

Protecting Your Office Environment from the Flu

Flu Season is already here.  Are you ready?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has announced that the infamous flu season is here, and it has made its arrival earlier than usual.  In fact, CDC Director, Thomas Frieden, says that this year’s flu season has arrived the earliest they have seen in nearly a decade. Hardest hit so far are the Southern states of Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, with the dominant strain, Influenza A N3H2.  This is not a new strain, but it’s one that hits hard, and hits fast.

According to US health officials, the flu is always harsh (responsible for anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 deaths in the US each year), and the early appearance of the flu could mean a cruel flu season ahead. The best way to protect yourself is to be vaccinated, and to do so at  the opportune time. After all, receiving a flu shot too early, like in August, may result in what medical professionals describe as “waning immunity,” where the vaccine essentially loses its effectiveness by the time the flu season hits.  Of course, waiting too long to get a flu shot puts you at high risk of already contracting the flu.

Whether you received a flu shot in time or not, there are still steps that can be taken in the work place to help you avoid  the flu or any of the other winter illness. If you are one of the many people who work in close quarters in an office space, you may want to take certain precautions.

Dr. Alan London, chief medical officer for Take Care Health Systems, advises people to wash hands frequently and to use alcohol-based lotions and hand sanitizers to keep germs from settling in on the skin for too long. London says, “Eighty percent of contagious diseases are transmitted by touch.”  He continues, “Cough into your sleeve instead of your hands, and try to keep your work area clean -- using disinfecting wipes on areas like telephones and keyboards.” He goes on to say that any area that is used commonly, such as doorknobs, sinks, refrigerators, vending machines, bathrooms, and kitchens, carry the highest risk for germs, which can stay alive for several hours.

Dr. London also indicates that one of the main diseases this year that many people may not be aware of is whooping cough, which has presented the highest number of cases the US has seen in 50 years. He recommends that people should speak to their physician to discuss vaccination, as recommendations vary by age and vaccination history.

Heath officials also indicate exercise can be a key component in fighting off illness, so consider adding some extra activity to your routine.  Not only will it help you fight germs, it can also be a great stress relief.

With tax season quickly approaching, tax professionals often feel they don’t have time to get sick.  Getting a flu shot, washing your hands, exercising, and being aware of germs  are all ways you can avoid falling ill this flu season.  Protect yourself and those around you, and be well.

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