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Every year between in the fall and winter, millions of people become sick in the US due to the flu.
This year, the flu is particularly bad. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control recently announced every part of the continental US had “widespread” flu activity.
Colds and the flu not only take their toll physically, but they also can affect businesses financially. Absenteeism, loss of productivity, and medical treatment of employees can be significant in years when the flu is bad, like this year. In fact, the CDC estimates the direct cost of the flu on US businesses to be approximately $10.4 billion in direct costs for hospitalizations and outpatient visits for adults.
Preparing for the Flu’s Arrival
It’s not a matter of if the flu will arrive in your area, but when.
When the flu starts to appear in a city, a town, or even a single business it can start to spread exponentially. In a period of just a few weeks or even a couple of days, it can jump from person to person, taking its toll on people of every age.
The flu can even be fatal, especially for the elderly, young children, and people with compromised immune systems.
For businesses, taking steps to prepare for the flu and to prevent its spread once it arrives is of critical importance. The CDC recommends that businesses encourage its workers to get vaccinated against the flu, or even sponsor on-site vaccinations.
Prevention and Control
The flu virus is spread a number of ways: It can be passed through skin-to-skin contact, it can become airborne when a person infected with the flu sneezes or coughs, and it can even sit dormant on surfaces like counters or light switches.
Once somebody who is not infected comes into contact with the virus, they can introduce it into their system by touching their face, eyes, nose, or mouth. Within just a couple of hours, they can begin to feel the devastating symptoms of the flu, including diarrhea, vomiting, muscle aches, headaches, fever, and sore throat.
Prevention begins with creating a culture within the organization.
In addition to encouraging people to get vaccinated, businesses also should ask workers to stay home if they feel sick, avoid unnecessary contact with people who may be infected, and prevent exposure risks by cleaning desks, counters, light switches, and other surfaces frequently with anti-bacterial wipes.
Dealing with the flu is something businesses have to contend with every fall and winter. The good news is every year flu season also comes to an end in the spring.