Infection in the Work Place
I have a elementary school child. When he was in preschool, parents received a letter stating that if your child had a fever, had a runny nose, was coughing and/or sneezing, or just able to spread cold or flu germs, you were to keep your child at home to help prevent the spread of infection.
I thought this was a great policy. I didn't want my child to get sick from another child, and I didn't want my child to infect other children.
Yet, in the workplace, an employee is thought of as a hero when he or she comes to work, obviously ill with an infectious malady. She dragged herself out of bed, took some cold relief medicine, and came into the office. Some of her co-workers will find this admirable, that is until they catch the same cold or flu she has. Then they, too, will find it in themselves to also come into the office, and infect others. That infectious employee is not only infecting other workers, she may be spreading germs as she goes to work on public transportation, or at the gas station, spreading germs in the elevator, on door knobs, on phones and other office equipment.
That employee is also not doing a good job at work. The report that usually takes an hour will take two. Sickness makes the brain slow because its first priority is the immune system, not some report. The worker will also feel stressed knowing that the work needs to be completed, but is having difficulty because of the illness. Stress makes the immune system work even harder. It's a vicious circle.
With the immune system compromised, and now vulnerable, that cold or flu can easily turn into something worse, like killer pneumonia.
That employee is likely to infect at least five other people in the office. That's five more people who are not going to be able to do their jobs properly, who will pass the illness on to others. Is this efficient? For humans no – for the virus, yes.
What Can I Do To Prevent Getting Sick?
If you are around others who are sick, there are some things you can do.
- Wash your hands frequently. Use an anti-bacterial liquid if you cannot get soap and hot water.
- Try not to touch your face. You may have picked up a virus on some surface, and getting that virus near your eyes, nose or mouth could get you sick.
- If those around you are coughing and sneezing and not covering up, nicely remind them to do so. Especially, remind them not to cough or sneeze into their bare hand. Remind them to use the inside corner of their elbow if they do not have a disposable tissue at hand.
- Clean surfaces regularly with either an anti-bacterial solution, hot water and soap, or a solution of 1/3 bleach and 2/3 water. Be sure to get door knobs, phones, and other surfaces people frequently touch.
- Don't be afraid to be "Monkish". Use a wipe or anti-bacterial liquid after you shake hands with someone.
- Never, ever, let someone use your tooth brush.
- Don't share drinks or food with others.
- Wear a protective mask if everyone around you is sick.
What Can I Do If I Do Get Sick?
While I am not a doctor, I have found these methods to be helpful. Of course, if you are running a very high fever, see your doctor right away.
- Don't take a fever reducer. Fevers are the bodies natural means of killing the virus that is making you sick. Help your immune system along by making your body as unfriendly as possible. Get under as many covers as you can, and rest. Watch your fever, carefully, however. If your fever goes above 103 or lasts for more than three days, seek medical help right away.
- Don't take a decongestant. When your nose is stuffed, it's stuffed for a reason - to raise the temperature and kill viruses. When you take a decongestant, you are just making it harder on your immune system.
- Don't take something for a runny nose, either. A runny nose is the body's way of flushing dead and dying viruses.
- Do take garlic. Using FRESH garlic, take a clove and cut it into pieces about the size of a vitamin. Take the garlic pieces with a glass of water. Don't chew them because people won't want to be around you!
- Do drink hot tea with honey. It's soothing, and honey has it's own natural benefits. Use raw honey.
- Do have hot chicken soup with a little hot sauce in it. Viruses don't like hot stuff, whether it's temperature or spice.
Let's all do our part to stay healthy. Colds and flu really hurt our economy.
So, employers, please make it policy for employees with colds or flu to stay home for one day until after the fever is gone without the use of a fever reducer – this means the virus is dead and cannot be spread. There is significant cost savings in time, doctor visits, insurance, etc., when sick employees stay home instead of coming to work.