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Friday, March 8, 2019

Colleagues Contribution to Contagion

Some of you may recall that I’m a firm believer if I get a cold and I can give it to one person I instantly start to feel better. That said, I try to ensure that person is not my son or it’s just going to come back to haunt me. A few weeks back I wrote about a colleague coming back from Vegas who was fortunate enough to enjoy watching, smelling and listening to the traveler in front of her vomit during the flight home. Since she didn’t get sick, it wasn’t Noro and as many may have guessed, he probably had a few too many adult beverages before getting on the plane.

So why the talk of colleagues and spreading disease? Well, I would hope that we know that spreading germs is not regulated to just hospitals, daycares, schools and cruise ships. Workplaces are just as bad. In fact the CDC recently published a report that investigated infectious diseases in workplaces. The researchers found 67 articles and 7 HHE reports that investigated workplace outbreaks between 2006 and 2015. As one may expect, the studies were concentrated on industries such as healthcare and laboratories where there would be a greater expectation of infections or outbreaks due to the nature of the work. Surprisingly, while outbreaks hit the news the researchers did not find any studies on outbreaks affecting people who work in schools, food service or other settings. Of the workplace infections that were identified, bacteria were responsible for most reported cases, followed by viruses, fungi, and parasites or protozoa. 

The long and the short, unless a company has a very strict policy that prohibits anyone from coming to work when feeling the slightest bit under the weather or provides PPE to employees that protects every opening that a germ can crawl into, pathogens are going to be transmitted or picked up within the workplace.  It is incredibly difficult to prevent and treat workplace outbreaks, due to conflicting priorities among employers, workers, labor unions, regulatory agencies, and trade associations, not to mention financial and time constraints that can prevent employers from implementing solutions to minimize the chance of outbreaks.

I can’t tell you to stay at home when you’re sick. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to work from home or get paid sick days. What you can do is take care of your area but cleaning and disinfecting as frequently as possible.  Have hand sanitizer ready to use between bathroom breaks and wash your hands before you put anything in your mouth!

Bugging Off!


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