With the recent publicity for the H1N1 virus, also known as the “swine flu”, panic has gripped many people. However, this is all in ignorance, as most people know very little about H1N1, how it’s spread, its infection rates, and how threatening it may or may not be. With a little information, one can protect against the swine flu and inform others to prevent infection. One of the most important places to protect oneself is at work, where people will often come in contact with others often and will frequently choose to continue going even if they find themselves sick.
The most important thing to understand is the similarity between the H1N1 flu and the seasonal influenza. H1N1 behaves in much the same way, so the precautions you would normally take to protect yourself against the flu should be more than adequate to protect you against H1N1. Here is a list of some of those precautions.
1) Wash your hands regularly. Make sure you thoroughly wash with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. If soap and/or water isn’t available, use alcohol-based sanitizers or wipes. The hands are most frequent culprit for spreading viruses, so routinely washing them will keep you safe and also prevent spreading the virus from one location to another.
2) Consider the H1N1 vaccine. The H1N1 vaccine has been recently released, so it might be worth your time to research it and consider getting the vaccine.
3) Keep up to date with public health advice. If regional public health authorities advise of school closing, business closings, or caution you to avoid crowds, heed those warnings. They have the latest information on infection rates and are trying their best to look out for the safety of the people.
4) Avoid sick people. This may seem obvious, but you should make a point to avoid people who are clearly ill and have not chosen to remain home. It may seem rude, but make it clear that you are only trying to prevent illness and its repercussions (missed work, spreading to others, etc).
5) Maintain cleanliness in the work place. Use disinfectant wipes to clean door handles, surfaces and other frequently touched items. You don’t have to go overboard, but even routine cleanliness can prevent a virus from spreading throughout a workplace.
6) Inform others. You can only do so much to prevent illness. If your coworkers are ill-advised, they may undo all of your preventative measures by coming to work sick or not washing their hands. Find ways to educate your workplace on the H1N1 flu and how to prevent it. That way your entire workplace can become a flu-free environment.