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4 Tips to Avoid Spreading the Flu at Work

4 Tips to Avoid Spreading the Flu at Work
Credit: Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock

This year's flu season is the worst in nearly a decade. According to Time magazine, the flu has been particularly severe this year, due in part to the especially prevalent Influenza A H3N2 strain.

The most obvious thing to do when you have the flu is to stay home from work, but avoiding spreading the flu entails much more than that. While most doctors will say the flu takes five days to rid the system, some people like to test fate and go back to the office as soon as they are feeling better. One by one, a new employee gets infected.

To stay on the safe side, follow these tips to avoid spreading the flu at work.

A disinfectant spray, such as Lysol, sprays kills 99.9 percent of bacteria and viruses. Surfaces tend to be the areas of the office people remember to spray most but don't forget about:

  • Light switches
  • Water cooler buttons
  • Doorknobs
  • The refrigerator door
  • Phones
  • Chairs, especially chair arms
  • The outside of garbage cans
  • Cabinet doors

Ken Majkowski, Pharm.D and chief pharmacy officer at free prescriptions savings program FamilyWize, says it's important that patients abide by their doctor's specific instructions to fully recover.

"Patients tend to disregard their prescribed medication mainly due to the inability to initially or continuously afford them," said Majkowski, who has more than 40 years of healthcare experience. "The unwillingness or inability to pay for treatment has even caused the incidence rate of flu-related deaths to rise this season."

If your insurance doesn't cover the cost of your prescriptions, you can look to prescription discount card programs such as Majkowski's company FamilyWize, or numerous other options like WellRX or Discount Drug Network.

As Fox News reported, at healthy levels, vitamins C and D can slow the progression of a viral infection. Take supplements or eat foods that are rich in these vitamins.

  • Vitamin C sources: oranges, strawberries, kiwi, kale, broccoli, mango, pineapple
  • Vitamin D sources: tuna, raw milk, eggs, mushrooms, salmon

Sponges don't cost much, and during flu season, it's best to not use them at all or throw them out in between uses unless they will be handled properly.

"We use sponges to clean our dishes and wipe down desks and counter tops on a daily basis," said Leanne Stapf, vice president of operations at The Cleaning Authority. "Many people don't think about how dirty the sponges we use to clean things really are. In fact, sponges are known to house all types of bacteria, including E. coli."

If you use a sponge in your office kitchen, keep yourself and your office safe from its bacteria with the proper cleaning methods. Stapf's methods include:

Microwave your sponges. This is by far one of the easiest and most popular methods of cleaning your sponge. All you have to do is soak your sponge in water, squeeze out the excess water, and cook it in your microwave for one minute. Keep an eye on it while it's in the microwave to make sure it's not burning.

Put your sponge in the dishwasher. Simply adding your sponge to your dishwasher's load is another way to disinfect your sponge. Place the sponge on the top rack, put your dishwasher on the "heated dry" setting, and take out the sponge when the dishwasher cycle is over. 

Soak your sponge in vinegar or bleach. These options are great for those who don't want (or have) a microwave or dishwasher to sterilize their sponge. You can either fill a cup with vinegar and soak the sponge for about five minutes, or you can fill a cup with diluted bleach (1/2 cup of bleach for every gallon of water) and soak the sponge for five minutes. Both of these methods involve soaking the sponge, just be sure to not mix the bleach and vinegar.

Marisa Sanfilippo

Marisa Sanfilippo is an award-winning marketing professional who has more than six years experience developing and executing marketing campaigns for small and medium sized businesses with a focus on digital marketing. After graduating Stockton University with a B.A. in Communications and minor in writing, Marisa worked as a freelance journalist for numerous publications, ultimately earning a position as an e-marketing specialist for a credit union. While in that position, she earned HubSpot's Inbound Marketing Certification and helped build the organization’s digital marketing strategy from the ground up. Her efforts helped lead the credit union to success on and offline including: a 200%+ organic increase in Facebook followers, a sales generating blog, and much more. Later on, she worked on a social media campaign that gained recognition by The Huffington Post.