Flu or Cold? Know the Differences and Keep Your Employees Healthy

common flu symptoms

How much do you really know about the influenza virus? Do you know what you need to do to prevent it?

Unfortunately, most employers don’t think about the flu until it has decimated their workforce. Only then do they realize they need to do something to stop it from spreading further.

Flu Symptoms

Do you know the common flu symptoms? Do you know how the flu is different from a cold?

Flu symptoms make you feel miserable. Common flu symptoms to be on the lookout for are:

  • Body aches and headaches
  • Extreme fatigue and exhaustion
  • Fever in excess of 100 degrees or simply feeling feverish
  • Sore throat, often accompanied by a cough
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Vomiting, nausea and diarrhea

If you have an employee suffering from one or more of these symptoms, they may need to checked out by a medical professional for an accurate diagnoses and treatment plan. All of these symptoms can also be signs of a cold. But there are several additional symptoms that indicate a more serious problem.

Knowing When to Go to the Doctor

If an employee experiences the following symptoms, they need to get into the doctor for treatment right away:

  • Confusion
  • Trouble breathing
  • Lip discoloration
  • Pressure or pain in the abdomen
  • Vomiting that won’t subside
  • Sudden bouts of dizziness
  • Flu symptoms that seem to improve but suddenly grow worse
  • Seizures

Ignoring the signs and symptoms of a severe illness could make the situation worse and cause the recovery process to take far longer than needed.

Types of Flu

Even though you might not realize it, there are numerous types of flu that you can get. Check out some of the following to give you an understanding of what you might be dealing with.

Avian flu occurs when you are infected with the Type A virus from a bird. While it naturally occurs in wild aquatic birds, it can infect domestic poultry and other animals. It isn’t all that common in humans, but it can happen.

Swine flu is a type of respiratory disease found in pigs from the Type A virus, however, it can end up affecting humans and making them ill.

Most people are familiar with a seasonal flu. This tends to strike during the cool fall and winter months and subside during the spring and summer. It often ends up spreading at a rapid rate from coming in contact with someone who is infected with the virus.

Flu Symptoms or Just a Cold?

Is it a cold or flu? How can you tell the difference?

Since the common cold and the flu tend to have a lot of the same symptoms, it can be quite difficult to differentiate between the two. The most accurate way to get an accurate diagnosis is to go to your healthcare provider for a test within the first couple days of becoming ill.

The topic of viral illnesses will always remain somewhat confusing, since the body has a relatively small number of symptoms with which to respond to an ever-changing, wide variety of viruses. – Dr. Alan Greene

cold symptomsGenerally speaking, the flu is far worse than just being hit with a regular cold. When you are struggling with the flu, body aches, fatigue, fever and cough tend to be amplified. If you have nothing more than a cold, you will probably be dealing with something simple like a stuffy nose.

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Taking the Necessary Steps to Prevent a Flu Pandemic

One of the best things you can do to prevent a flu pandemic from taking over your business is to make sure everyone is washing their hands, staying home when sick and keeping the office clean.

Bring in a professional commercial cleaning company on a regular basis during peak flu season to prevent the virus from taking over your workforce. By doing your part to prevent the area from becoming contaminated, you can ensure the health and well-being of your employees. There is no time like the present to start preventing the illness from spreading through your workplace.

Preventing Flu Outbreaks in Office Environments

stop the spread of flu in Office environments

Preventing flu outbreaks is a primary concern for most office managers and people who have to work in office environments.  The recent outbreak of measles originating in Disneyland highlights how having lots of people together in an environment where someone is sick can have far-reaching effects when it come to the spread of illness.

Certainly the single most critical illness prevention tip is to wash your hands properly. We’ve recommended this repeatedly, and we won’t stop!

Hand Washing and Illness Prevention

How often should you wash your hands?

  • Before you prepare food and after you prepare food
  • After you eat
  • Before and after going to the washroom
  • After handling animals or animal waste
  • After coughing or sneezing
  • Whenever your hands are dirty
  • More frequently if you are around anyone who is sick

What is proper handwashing technique?

Hands should be wet before you apply soap.  Wet hands will allow the soap to lather up better and gives you better coverage over your hands when washing.  Wash for 10-20 seconds.

Using an alcohol-based sanitizer in the absence of soap and water is acceptable however it is not as effective as using soap and water.

7 Additional Ways to Prevent the Spread of Illness in the Office

1) Ensure that any re-usable towels are laundered or replaced daily.  In an office environment, paper towels are better at limiting the spread of infection.

2) Have disinfectant wipes on hand for employees to use at their workstations. If an employee has a sneeze or cough, they can attempt to wipe the affected area with the quick wipe. This wipe down will make their work environment cleaner and help prevent the spread of illness if someone else comes by or shares the workstation.

3) The next most critical way to prevent on outbreak in your office is to be sure people do not come to work when they are sick.  This seems like common sense, but it cannot be overstated.  Coughing or sneezing those germs causes them to become airborne and leads to the beginnings of an outbreak that spreads the flu.

5) Educate your employees how to contain a sneeze or cough. The easiest method being, of course, a tissue.  However, it is not always possible to grab one quick enough so be sure everyone knows how to catch a cough or sneeze in their sleeve.  This certainly is not ideal but still a better alternative that sending the germs airborne for all to catch.

6) Source and use as many touchless dispensers as possible in the washroom and lunchroom.  Using touchless soap dispensers and towel dispensers can go a long way to stopping the spread of infection, by having one less touch point where germs can hang out and be spread among the users of your office.

7) Also be sure to encourage employees to take a flu shot.  If you have enough employees even arranging a flu shot clinic on site is a great option to help keep your office healthier during the flu season.  Even finding a flu shot location or mobile site close by is a good choice.

Many people make excuses to not get the flu shot. Often the reasons are personal rather than medical. Certainly the flu vaccination is an excellent prevention technique to prevent the spread of the flu in your office this flu season.

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Conclusion

Truly hand washing could be so critical that if you just focused on that fact the spread of illness in your office environment would decrease significantly.  On average people touch themselves on their faces 18 times per hour.  This frequent touching is the largest factor why hand washing is so important.

Do You Have to Use Harsh Chemicals to Kill Germs & Bacteria?

chemicals that kill viruses

There is a lot of talk in the media about the spread of germs and flu bugs. The question that naturally arises from this is how to kill these germs and if harsh chemicals are necessary.

Universally the number one recommendation that come from every authority figure on the prevention of picking up germs that lead to infection and illness is hand washing.

Are Antibacterial Cleaning Products Necessary?

What kinds of chemicals kill viruses, germs and bacteria? Do you have to use harsh chemicals or antibacterial cleaners?

The discussion of anti-bacterial soaps and cleaning products does present some controversy.  Anti-bacterial products kill germs on contact, however, the debate arises in that many people feel that the overuse of these products can create super germs with more and more resistance to antibodies.

Whether this fact is true or not is not 100% clear.  However the CDC (Center for Disease Control) performed a study of 224 households using anti-bacterial soaps and found them to not be any healthier than people who don’t use anti-bacterial soap.

Regular soap releases germs from the skin so they can be washed down the sink or wiped up with a towel.  Manufacturers would have you believe that anti-bacteria soaps are better than regular soap.   However, the study clearly shows that the health levels of the soap and anti-bacterial soap users are the same.

Antibacterial or Not? How Do You Decide?

So if the health effects are the same how do you decide which is the best way to go?  If you take the iatrogenic impact of the anti-bacterial soap (the possible creation of resistant super-germs), maybe regular soap is a safer choice.

It is clear that the antibacterial soaps or cleaning chemicals you may use kills the germs on contact. However, if you use a general purpose cleaner alongside proper cleaning techniques, you can remove germs and bacteria just as effectively.

What are Proper Cleaning Techniques?

By proper techniques I mean:

  • You are using properly laundered cleaning cloths.
  • You allow the cleaner or soap time to work
  • You remove the suspended soils using a clean cloth and polish the surface dry.

The problem arises when cleaners are not using properly laundered cleaning materials, are over wetting them or are using unacceptable cleaning methods.  In these cases, the soils and germs are not being removed; rather they are just being redistributed as the cleaner cleans.

You could argue that in the presence of unprofessional cleaners that using chemicals, which kill germs on contact, is best. However using poor cleaning techniques will significantly reduce if not eliminate the effects of any chemical used.

I have lost count of the amount of times I have seen otherwise professional looking cleaners using the same cleaning cloth in the washroom and in other areas of an office or home.  I have also witnessed self-laundering of cleaning cloths. Self-laundering is where the cleaner rinses out the cloths under the tap and rings them out.  If your cleaners are not walking out of the building with a bag of cloths to launder be suspicious of their skill set or training, unless the building has a laundry service.
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Conclusion

Certainly you need to have an understanding of what chemicals need to be used to be sure you are properly killing germs. However, the techniques being used are far more likely to have a greater effect on the success of any cleaning program than the cleaning products themselves. Don’t underestimate the impact of proper cleaning technique if you are seeking to have a germ free or nearly germ-free environment.

3 Everyday Preventive Actions To Stop the Spread of Germs

stop the spread of germs

It is important to understand some terminology when it comes to cleaning. Understanding this language will lead you to be able to take a wider approach to maintaining your environment to be germ free and to help prevent the spread of germs.

What is cleaning versus sanitizing and disinfecting?

Most people do not understand the distinction, and frankly most cleaning professionals have trouble with the differences between those three levels of clean.

The differences are significant as each level plays a role in the overall cleaning process.

Cleaning

Cleaning is just that, cleaning. It is the act of removing dirt, germs, and residue but does not necessarily kill germs or bacteria. Cleaning large amounts of soil, dirt, etc. is critical before sanitizing or disinfecting can occur.  If sanitizing or disinfecting is the goal, large quantities of dirt or soil will impede the ability of chemicals to do their work effectively.

Sanitizingdirty towels will not stop the spread of germs

Sanitizing is the act of lowering the number of germs on surfaces.  Sanitizing reduces the germ count to a level considered safe by public health standards to decrease the risk of spreading infections. (The removal of 99.99% microorganisms).

For a surface to be sanitized it must be cleaned sufficiently, otherwise it is impossible to obtain close contact between the sanitizer and the surface to be sanitized.  Also some chemical sanitizers (e.g. chlorine and iodine) react with organic matter and so will be less effective when the surface is not properly cleaned.  Sanitizers are designed to clean and sanitize at the same time; however, excessive soil and dirt should always be cleaned and removed first.

Disenfecting

Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces using chemicals.  The act of disinfecting does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs. The act of disinfecting usually involves a certain amount of dwell time for the chemical solution depending on the manufacturers recommendations.  Even disinfecting doesn’t necessarily kill all organisms.

So having an overall cleaning strategy that has an understanding of the true elements of cleaning are important if you are hoping to prevent the spread of germs.

Does Everyday Cleaning Plan Include All Categories of Cleaning?

Does your cleaning plan include all categories of cleaning or are you just cleaning without any awareness of the need to properly sanitize or disinfect? Most professionals will recommend that at the least you should be sanitizing surfaces that are frequently touched in your home or office.

The question becomes, do your people understand what this means?  Go into your cleaning closet or janitorial room. Do you see cleaning cloths hanging to dry? If so, you know that your cleaners are very likely just cleaning with a damp cloth. This means they are removing visible soils but not likely taking the next steps in combating the spread of germs by properly sanitizing or disinfecting.

Stop the Spread of Germs

You can help stop the spread of germs by having cleaning supplies on hand for your workstation or keys areas of your home.  The quickest and easiest are pre-moistened disinfecting or sanitizing wipes, which you can use to clean the surfaces you touch the most before you start for the day work.

Ensuring a work environment that is clean and sanitary doesn’t have to be hard and preventing the spread of germs is really everyone’s responsibility and that starts with good hand hygiene.  Be aware of how germs spread and have a good cleaning plan.  This helps set the stage for a well-rounded plan to keep germs at bay.   Also look for clues (or ask them) to see if your cleaning professional has a full grasp of the correct techniques to help you stop the spread of germs in your work environment.

Don’t Touch That: How Poor Cleaning Practices Spread Viruses

Dont_Touch__That

How much has sickness affected your workplace productivity this year? Preventing the spread of viruses in the workplace is becoming more and more important especially during the flu season.

The peak flu season occurs during the coldest part of the year. Depending on which part of the world you are in, the time of year will vary. In North America, it is October to May, peaking normally in February.

Occurrences of flu increase 10 times or more during these colder periods. Why is the flu so much more prevalent in the winter?

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5 Ways To Prevent the Spread of Ebola

5_Ways_to_Prevent_the_Spread_of_Ebola

 

The Ebola virus and its devastating affects are one of the top health issues in the media these days.

Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is the severe, life-threatening disease caused by infection with the Ebola virus. EHF is a serious disease with a high mortality rate.

Ebola viruses are transmitted either:

  • Through direct contact with blood or body fluids/substances (urine, feces, vomit etc.) of an infected person with symptoms.
  • Through exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected blood or body fluids.

The role of the environment in transmission has not been established. Limited laboratory studies, under favorable conditions, indicate that the Ebola virus can remain viable on solid surfaces, with concentrations falling slowly over several days. However, given the apparent low infectious dose and disease severity, higher levels of precaution are warranted to reduce the potential risk posed by contaminated surfaces in the patient care environment and beyond.

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Cleaning Remedies that Kill Bacteria & Flu Viruses

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Keeping colds and flu viruses at bay is hard enough at home. If you manage a work facility, you may be faced with the extra responsibility of determining the best way to protect your employees from getting sick.

If you go to the CDC website, they list every product certified to kill viruses and germs, but which one is safest AND most effective?

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How to Stop the Spread of Germs in the Workplace

STOP

 

Did you know that getting the flu vaccination each year is the best way to prevent the spread of germs and sickness in the workplace? That’s according to the Center for Disease Control.

Illness costs businesses an average of $576 billion dollars each year, says The Integrated Benefits Institute. That’s a significant chunk of change for your company and the economy. The best way to recoup that money and uphold high productivity is to stop the spread of germs in the workplace.

Here are a few tips to help you keep illness out and healthy employees at their desks.

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How to Prevent Flu Outbreaks in Medical and Dental Offices

Flu2

Preventing the flu is serious business. Every year we are inundated with news of the latest version of Flu panic that will lead to the next pandemic. At least that’s what the media wants you to believe.

Preventing the spread of the flu virus in dentists and or medical doctors offices may seem to be harder than other environments.  However, doctors are highly trained in the treatment and care of patients and are likely the best prepared of anyone.

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How to Cut Your Flu Risk in Half

how to prevent colds and flus in the workplace

There are some important basic guidelines to follow to ensure you protect yourself during the flu season. Officials at the CDC (Center for Disease Control) are warning about the perils of the flu this year once again.

Already 21 children have died due to flu, which is more than last year at the same time. As the season progresses, more deaths will be attributed to the flu as is normally the case in years past.

Deaths due to the flu for adults are not required to be reported to the CDC, only children. Although it is clearly an indicator of the severity of the outbreak.

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