Two years ago, Slate reported that sneeze particles can travel up to 200 feet, per recent MIT research. According to the CDC, the flu virus can survive on hard surfaces, such as doorknobs, copy machines, and staplers, for up to eight hours. Experts there say that the best way to keep from infecting others is to stay away from them. Those facts alone should persuade Texas managers to tell employees to call in sick when they start sniffling, sneezing, coughing, and feeling miserable this cold and flu season.
Everything Is Bigger in Texas, Including the Number of Flu Cases
While battling her own bug, a Dallas News health reporter learned that Texas is the “number 1 hot spot for stomach flu,” according to digital healthcare company Amino, which analyzed more than 73,000 cases across the country in 2014. Gastroenteritis—also known as the stomach flu—causes symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and fever, and it results in 21 million illnesses, 71,000 hospitalizations, and 800 deaths each year in the United States, Dallas News said.
The Flu Is Super Contagious
When you read the news and see that 70 students stayed home from school with the stomach flu, it’s no surprise.
“The flu is spread, or transmitted, when a person who has the flu coughs, sneezes, or speaks and sends flu virus into the air, and other people inhale the virus,” said the Texas Department of Insurance. “The virus enters the nose, throat, or lungs of a person and begins to multiply.” People can also get the flu if they touch a surface, such as a desk, that has the flu virus on it and then touch their nose or their mouth.
Offices are no different from classrooms. Think about how often your employees talk to one another and how many surfaces, including elevator buttons, door handles, coffee pots, and phones, they touch in one day.
Infected People Can Spread the Flu Before They Even Feel Sick
Yep. Cue the “Jaws” music. And, said the Department of Insurance, adults can give the virus to family, friends, coworkers, and strangers for 3 to 7 days. It’s the unwanted gift that keeps on giving.
Sick People Are a Danger to Others
Children and the elderly are usually more vulnerable to the flu and other illnesses than other people, so if you run a daycare center, a nursing home, or any business that works with children or the elderly, request that sick employees stay home until they’re well. Also, MedicineNet reminds us that some people could be pregnant, undergoing chemotherapy treatment, or suffering from a chronic condition that makes them just as susceptible to illness as children and the elderly.
Furthermore, cold medicine, pain medication, and prescription drugs can make a person groggy.
“The nature of your job … dictates what kind of medical conditions must keep you home,” MedicineNet said. “A desk worker may be able to work just fine while on crutches, but a lifeguard cannot.”
Limited mobility can pose safety risks, and a lack of concentration can cause employees to make mistakes that will cost the company money – or clients, the site said.
So What Should Texas Managers Tell Employees This Winter?
“Fever, muscle aches and pains, fatigue, weakness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, and confusion are all symptoms that are likely to be associated with a contagious illness and are probably a clue that you or they should stay home,” said MedicineNet. “If a person is in significant pain and is unable to concentrate or focus, that’s another signal that he or she would be better off at home. Finally, if you are taking any medications that affect your physical or mental abilities to do your job, a sick day is the best option.”
Managers should also encourage employees to use their health insurance to get a flu shot. If your company needs cheaper policies, Freeway offers free quotes for health insurance. Contact us today by calling 800-777-5620.