October means cooler weather, colored leaves, and the beginning of flu season. Every year, millions of Americans contract influenza, commonly known as the flu, and suffer fevers, aches, severe congestion and other symptoms. The virus primarily spreads through the air, but you can catch it by touching your mouth or nose after touching a contaminated surface. Fortunately, simple precautions can prevent you, your family, your students, and your coworkers from catching the flu this season.
- Get vaccinated
Vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu, according to the Center for Disease Control. The center recommends vaccinations for almost all people over 6 months. Texas Tech offers faculty and staff free flu shots from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. October 15 and noon to 3 p.m. October 22. Shots are also available at many local pharmacies.
- Wash your hands regularly
Although it may seem obvious, washing your hands with soap and water is one of the easiest ways to prevent the spread of the flu. While the flu primarily spreads through droplets in the air, physical contact with germs can also lead to illness. If you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your eyes, mouth or ears, you expose yourself to the virus.
- Sanitize your workspace
Researchers understand the importance of maintaining sanitary conditions in the laboratory, but few people routinely clean their office spaces. Germs on objects such as doorknobs and keyboards can make you sick. Use disposable wipes to sanitize these frequently touched surfaces on a regular basis.
- If you are sick, stay home.
If you do get the flu, you should not return to work for 24 hours after your fever is gone, according to the CDC. The flu virus can be contagious for five to seven days after an individual becomes sick. Protecting the health and safety of your coworkers is a top priority.
For more information about the flu, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/index.htm.