Stopping the Spread of Germs at Work

            Illnesses like the flu (Influenza), colds and other serious respiratory illnesses like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), whooping cough and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), are caused by viruses and spread from person to person when an infected person coughs or sneezes or from unclean hands. 

To help stop the spread of germs –

Take care to: 

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Put your used tissue in the waste basket.
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Wash your hands often and every time you cough or sneeze.
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Stay home when you are sick and check with a health care provider when needed.
  • Practice other good health habits.  

Cleaning your hands often:

             When available, wash your hands – with soap and water – then rub your hands vigorously together and scrub all surfaces.  Wash for 15 to 20 seconds.  It is the soap combined with the scrubbing action that helps dislodge        and remove germs.

             When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used.  You can find them in most supermarkets and drugstores.  If using a gel, rub the gel in your hands until they are dry.  The gel doesn’t need water to work; the alcohol in the gel kills germs that cause colds and the flu.    

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth 

            Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth.  Germs can live for a long time (some can live for 2 hours or more) on surfaces like doorknobs, desks and tables.


            When you are sick or have flu symptoms, stay home, get plenty of rest and check with a health care provider as needed.  In many cases, your employer may need a doctor’s note for an excused absence. Remember: Keeping your distance from others may protect them from getting sick. 

Common symptoms for the flu include:

  • Fever (usually high)
  • Headache
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea (much more common among children that adults) 

More Facts, Figures and How-to Ideas 

            Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and it’s partner agencies and organizations offer a great deal of information about hand washing and other things you can do to stay healthy and avoid the germs that cause flu, the common cold and other illnesses.  See other resources and posters on the “Stop the Spread of Germs” site at:  


2010 – 2011 Flu Season 


The following links contain information about flu activity during this season. 

Resource:CDC centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Your online source for credible health information.

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