As news continues to spread about the dangers of the Coronavirus, it’s important to be reminded of the hazards of such illnesses and how a few simple measures like washing your hands can make all the difference.
Viral illnesses like influenza and the Coronavirus typically circulate from late fall through early spring, and while most people will recover from the flu after a few days, thousands of others will be hospitalized due to the illness. According to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) the annual costs of influenza due to doctor visits is $4.6 billion, with United States employees missing approximately 17 million workdays resulting in a $7 billion loss per year in sick days and lost productivity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all persons starting at the age of six months be vaccinated. The CDC estimated that during the 2016-17 flu season, flu vaccinations prevented 5.3 million flu illnesses, 2.6 million medical visits, and 85,000 flu hospitalizations. The flu vaccine reduces the risk of contracting flu illnesses by between 30 and 60 percent. It’s also important to note that it helps protect not only yourself but also those around you.
In addition to vaccination, the CDC recommends that you try to avoid close contact with sick people or limit your interactions with others if you are sick. They also recommend that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone and to wash your hands often with soap and water. Washing your hands involves five steps: wet, lather, scrub, rinse, dry. Regular handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of illness to others, including the spread of the Coronavirus.
On top of handwashing, you should avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth, and face, which is how germs spread into your body.
Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills, and fatigue. Those infected are most contagious in the first three to four days after the illness begins.
Information on the Coronavirus and prevention can be found on the OSHA website.