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Stay healthy this flu season

As we enter flu season, it’s important to protect ourselves from exposure to flu viruses.

Research has found that up to 83 percent of workers go to work when they are sick with the cold or flu. Going to work when you’re sick puts others who may be more vulnerable at risk. It is estimated 2,000 to 8,000 Canadians die from flu or complications from flu each year. People at higher risk for flu complications include infants, seniors, pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes).

Symptoms of flu can include fever, chills, cough or sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches, tiredness, diarrhea and vomiting.

How are colds and flu spread?

Cold and flu viruses are spread when people come into contact with airborne droplets or surfaces containing flu virus from an infected person. A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology reveals droplets from coughs and sneezes can travel as far as ceiling ventilation units which then carry the viruses throughout the workplace. Flu viruses can live up to 48 hours on hard surfaces. On clothing or other soft surfaces, these ‘germs’ can live for 8 to 10 hours.

Workplace high risk areas for cold and flu include:

  1. Break room sink faucet handles
  2. Microwave door handles
  3. Keyboards and computer mice
  4. Refrigerator door handles
  5. Water fountain buttons
  6. Vending machine buttons
  7. Desk phones

How long are people contagious?

People develop symptoms of flu from one to four days after being infected. They can be contagious from the day before symptoms appear until at least five to seven days after symptoms start.

Public Health Agency of Canada
Queen’s University study by Department of Family Medicine
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Journal of Fluid Mechanics

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