Coughing. Sniffling. Sneezing.
Every winter, it seems the incidences of flu and colds increase. According to Health Canada, the flu and its complications send about 20,000 Canadians to hospital every year, and between 2,000 and 8,000 Canadians die.
This flu season, public Health Ontario reports that 1,448 cases of the flu were reported in the last two weeks of December – which accounts for a little over half the number of cases reported so far this year.
Hamilton’s public health department, which provided 6,600 flu shots at clinics during October and November, recorded its first case of flu on November 9. Between then and the first week of January, there were 236 confirmed cases, mostly of the Influenza A virus.
The flu, this season, is everywhere - especially in the workplace. That’s why Ontario’s doctors are ramping up a special campaign to keep these easily contracted illnesses from spreading like wildfire.
Snot’s Not Hot encourages anyone who has the flu to take a sick day and stay home from work if they can. Staying home and limiting contact with others prevents the spread of the flu virus to people, who in turn, could pass it along to their friends and family.
Cold and flu viruses are highly contagious and are spread because people touch surfaces and then touch their faces, objects or individuals. It can easily spread for five to seven days after symptoms start. Some of the most contaminated sources are the surfaces people touch travelling to and from work.
According to the Ontario Medical Association, more than 60 per cent of gas pumps and more than 40 per cent of escalator rails and ATM machine buttons are highly contaminated with illness causing viruses. That’s why it’s so important to wash your hands frequently throughout the day to help prevent you from getting sick or spreading the illness to your family and co-workers. Getting enough rest, exercising and eating properly are also recommended to stay healthy.
Knowing flu symptoms is a start when preventing the spread of the virus. A cold and the flu can both cause a runny and stuffy nose, sneezing and a sore throat. The flu, however, takes a greater toll with high fever, headache, severe muscle aches and pains, chest discomfort, tiredness and weakness.
Most people recover from the flu in about a week, but influenza may cause serious issues, especially in infants, the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.
Should you start feeling sick, please keep your germs to yourself and work from home or take a sick day.
“You don’t need to prove anything by going into work when you are sick. In fact, going to work with the flu only proves that you are willing to make others sick,” said Dr. Doug Weir, president of the Ontario Medical Association. “Staying home to rest will prevent the spread of the flu to other employees and will keep you on the road to recovery.”
If staying home isn’t an option for you, try reducing the risk of spreading the virus by always coughing and sneezing into your elbow, using hand sanitizer and washing your hands frequently. Also, refrain from sharing personal items, such as water bottles, cups, cigarettes and food.
Like the campaign says, Snot’s Not Hot. So please, if you are coughing, sniffling or sneezing, stay home and focus on getting better instead of putting the health of your co-workers at risk.
We’ll all be thankful for it.