According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 650,000 people worldwide could die from complications of the flu. And although it is still early in the flu season, experts believe that it is going to be a nasty one.
For example, according to infectious disease experts in Texas, flu cases have doubled in only a week. CBS News reports that the Lone Star state is one of 23 states that is already experiencing very high flu activity.
Experts are concerned because the flu season that just concluded in Australia was one of most severe in five years and the vaccine used there is the same one used here. It’s believed that one of the strains covered, called H3N2, mutated, making the vaccine only 10 percent effective.
These predictions make promoting safe and healthy work environments not only important for preserving public health, but for helping businesses protect their bottom lines. The Clorox Professional Products Company suggested ways facilities and staff can help keep germs at bay:
• Practice proper cleaning and disinfecting protocols that target germs on both hard and soft surfaces. It’s also important to make sure proper products are being used. Watch for kill claims for viruses such as influenza and rhinovirus (the leading cause of the common cold) listed on product labels.
• High-touch surfaces such as desks, countertops, doorknobs, keyboards, faucets, phones and elevator buttons need to be disinfected at least once a day. This is especially important as viruses that cause the common cold and flu can survive on surfaces for hours at a time.
• Don’t neglect soft surfaces, which can be germ reservoirs. According to Journal of Applied Microbiology reports, flu viruses can survive on soft surfaces for up to 12 hours.
• Encourage general healthy habits, including proper hand washing.
A study done by University of Arizona discovered how quickly the flu spreads in the workspace with a mimicked flu experiment, starting with only one contaminated employee. The study found that within four hours, over 50 percent of surfaces and employees were contaminated.
Hands are the main transmitter of germs, which is why cleaning professionals need to be mindful of commonly touched surfaces. According to Deb Group, germ hot spots in facilities include:
• Mobile phones
• Door handles
• Staircase rails
• Vending machines
• Other hands