Flu season is upon us and it's arrived with a vengeance. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that the only real way to prevent the flu is through consistent and thorough hand-washing no matter where you are, there's one place that seems to breed illness for adults: the office. Many of us feel stricken with guilt when having to call out after experiencing flu symptoms, but know that staying home is the best possible thing you can do for your co-workers.
Because, believe it or not, you probably picked up the harmful germs from your office buildings. Everything from elevator buttons to being near an infection person's coughs can send the flu directly your way, even if you practice healthy habits. Recently, KHOU spoke to Dr. Roger Khetan with Baylor Scott & White on the dangers of germs at work, and where the germiest places are hiding.
3. Shared Office Phones
Grab some hand sanitizer and start sanitizing the shared staff keyboard or the phone. Even the ear piece is a problem area, so be sure to stock disinfecting wipes in your desk so you don't come into close contact with flu viruses.
2. Your Computer Keyboard
Your computer keyboard isn't just a breeding ground for your own germs; every square inch is covered in the germs of those around you. The best way to combat this is to maintain good health habits by regularly washing your hands and disinfecting your machine buttons. When the CDC swore that the number one flu prevention trick for this year was to clean your hands, they were not lying.
1. The Office Coffee Pot
This was the biggest takeaway from Dr. Khetan's conversation with KHOU. "An office coffee pot can be flu-central, given the number of hands, washed and unwashed, that might touch the coffee pot handle each day."
How can you prevent catching the flu while still pouring coffee in the office kitchen? Sanitize the coffee pot handle before you touch it, though you could also use a paper towel to protect your hand from stray germs.
The same goes for the office water cooler, if you have one. A lack of hand sanitizing means everyone who touches the handles is sharing serious germs with others.
The real lesson to be learned here is that there's no surefire way to prevent the flu, only healthy habits to adopt to avoid it. As Dr. Khetan told KHOU, "I think most people get the flu. You're human, you get the flu... Most people who get the real flu, influenza A or B, are out for about five to seven days."
If you feel flu symptoms developing, take care of yourself immediately. Extremely contagious, the flu means you should stay home until your health improves. Don't risk the health of your co-workers by going to work sick.