There are times that my self-control amazes me. Perhaps not when it comes to chocolate, candy, chips and dip or really good cheese, but upon occasion, like my ability to not work out is truly impressive. The fact that we have hit November and this is the first blog of the fall to talk about Flu Season is a great example of my self-control.
You may be wondering why I think I’m so impressed with myself, well…..have you be following the Flu Season in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere? Australia has had a particularly bad flu season with >93,000 lab confirmed cases as of August 18th which happens to be 2.5 times more infections than the previous year. The deaths and hospitalizations associated with the flu have also almost doubled when comparing recorded numbers year over year.
So what does that mean for North America? Well, if we use Australia and Hong Kong as indicators, and we know they have grappled with one of the worst flu seasons on record, then it’s safe to say that we may follow suit. One of the reasons is because H3N2 is one of the most predominant strains circulating and it happens to be the strain that wreaked havoc a couple of years ago when our vaccine was a mismatch… So, with the arrival of November we can and should expect the flu to start showing up. If we keep on track to when we typically see spikes, we can expect the first hit sometime in December, about the time that kids return home from school. Then a second hit in late January into February when we start seeing the true colour of Jack Frost and his blustery frigid temperatures.
Which leads me to restrooms and the flu. “Spring Cleaning” is a well-known phenomenon with its intention to get rid of the dirt and grime that accumulates over the winter after we lock ourselves inside to avoid the cold. Perhaps we should develop a new phenomenon – Fall Extermination. We know that germs can be anywhere and we know that germs start “accumulating” in the fall when Cold and Flu seasons hits so maybe if we look at implementing a few key prevention tips we can help reduce the risk of transmission:
- Schedule seasonal deep cleaning at the beginning, middle and end of cold and flu season to keep the germs at bay.
- Increase the number of hand sanitizers you have on hand and make sure your bathroom is well stocked with soap in order to facilitate hand hygiene.
- Have disinfectant wipes readily accessible and encourage employees to disinfect their work areas, telephones, keyboards, door handles etc.
- Can you move to hands free options? The less we touch, the less our hands will pick up and the lower the chance we have to spread things to ourselves.
- Just because cold and flu season happens every year, doesn’t mean everyone remembers how to differentiate between the two and how to try and stop from getting sick. EDUCATE!
- Encourage sick employees to head home and recover. A sick employee is not a productive employee and they’ll just make others sick.
- Promote Flu shots; and if you can, hold a flu shot clinic.
As we enter flu season, I hope you implement a few of these things both at work and at home because there’s nothing worse than working with sick grouchy people only to have to head home to a husband with a man-cold……