Winter is coming and so is the flu season. Influenza, commonly called ‘the flu’ is highly contagious. It is spread when infected people cough or sneeze and via surfaces that become contaminated by them. Flu is not the same as a common cold – it is far more severe and leaves you feeling dreadful.
The flu is very easy to catch. People may be contagious for up to a day before having any symptoms and the flu virus can survive:
Flu and work absences
Last year Australia recorded the highest number of flu cases ever, which also led to higher than usual absenteeism in the workplace.
Businesses expect higher absences in winter, but the costs of short-term workplace absences are high and include:
How to lower the risk of contagion
Despite being so contagious, there are ways to reduce your chances of catching it.
By far the most effective way of protecting against the flu is by vaccination. After a particularly bad flu season in the northern hemisphere, the Australian flu vaccination includes two new strains of the virus. If your workplace cannot provide flu vaccinations, encourage employees to go to the doctor as soon as possible to get their flu vaccination.
Try to avoid close contact with people who already have the flu. If you have it, protect others by keeping your distance.
Frequent hand washing helps protect you from germs. Use soap and water whenever possible, otherwise use an alcohol-based hand rub.
If somebody in your home or workplace is sick, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. To stay as healthy as possible, eat nutritious food, manage your stress levels, get plenty of sleep, drink plenty of fluids and be physically active.
Germs spread quickly from touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. This provides germs with a quick pathway straight into your system.
What to do if you get the flu