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Flu in the workplace can be hazardous for Montana workers

Posted at 9:20 AM, Feb 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-19 12:09:10-05

BOZEMAN – There have been more than 3,000 cases — including three deaths — reported in Montana so far this flu season.

One of the places you’re most likely to catch the flu is at your job — where most people spend eight hours, usually five days a week.

Flu germs linger just about everywhere during flu season and the workplace is one of the number one places you can catch the flu. Think about the number of germs you and your co-workers bring in from outside the workplace and even the germs that are already on shared surfaces.

“Make sure you have the people cleaning or organization focuses on high touch surfaces,” Bozeman Health Patient Coordinator Michelle Kirsch said. “So our high-touch surfaces are our door handles, our light switches and then phones, keyboards, mouses, anything electronic.”

Flu Shot
Local health officials say this year’s vaccine should provide better protection against the flu this season. (MTN News photo)

“And anything that has a lot of nooks and crannies if you will. They’re a little harder to clean so we really want to focus our energy on cleaning those with something that has a high kill rate and specifically will kill flu virus,” Kirsch said.

The flu germs that get people sick can sit and linger on surfaces for up to a week and cleaning theses surfaces at least weekly is highly advised.

Influenza can be transmitted directly from person to person or by touch surfaces. When having a conversation it’s best to take a step back to prevent catching the flu from the other person.

Encouraging staff to get the flu shot and simply washing your hands frequently can prevent your chances of catching the flu this season.

“People see it, they think to do it,” said Kirsch. “If they don’t see it then they forget. So we remember when we get up to go to the bathroom and sometimes it’s on our mind right before we go to the lunch room but there are other opportunities throughout the day so having it readily available to your staff encourages them to do so.”

Experts at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say it’s still not too late to get your flu shot.

-Emma Hamilton reporting for MTN News