Swine flu is headline news with photos and coverage of mild cases reported in the U.S. and more serious illness in Mexico. Is it time to quarantine the cube dweller who has been sneezing all morning? Not likely, seasonal allergies may be the culprit. Fear and gossip spreads quickly, wasting time, creating rumors and misinformation. Brush up on the facts and share the recommendations of health officials before your entire team starts to shun the poor guy with the runny nose.
Soap and Water Goes a Long Way
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that if you want to avoid the flu, “First and most important; wash your hands.” They think this strain is spreading through human contact, just like seasonal flu.
The CDC recommends:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
Maybe They Shouldn’t Come to Work
When an employee comes to work looking like they should be in bed taking care of a fever and list of symptoms, send them home. The CDC recommends staying home from work and limiting contact with others to keep from infecting them. You don’t have to get a personal health history. If the watery eyes are not accompanied by a burning forehead and the employee reports, “I get this every spring when the trees bud,” let them take a break to stock up on over-the-counter meds.
Both the World Health Organization and the CDC are publishing regular updates that you can use to get well prepared information to share in the workplace. It won’t hurt to post new signs reminding people about the benefits of hand washing and to provide dispensers of hand sanitizer when soap and water are not readily available. There’s no need to be creative here, a poster that says, “The CDC recommends,” with the above mentioned bullet points, will get the message across. Healthy outcomes are more likely when you spread information instead of viruses.