Cold and Flu Season

December 04, 2014

 

As cold and flu season approach us and employees voice concerns about Enterovirus D68 and Ebola, the Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR), the Faculty Staff Assistance Program and the Emory WorkLife Resource Center have collaborated together to compile information and resources to help departments, as well as faculty and staff, manage the flu season in a way that best supports our community. The collaborative effort emphasizes the importance of accommodating the needs of those that are sick, as well as their caretakers, while minimizing workplace disruptions and maintaining optimum productivity. Your cooperation with the suggestions outlined below should help our community get through the flu season as well as possible.

 

 

Colds, Flu’s and Other Ailments of Concern this Season

 

Get vaccinated against the flu today!  Influenza, commonly called the "flu," is a contagious viral infection that affects the respiratory system — your nose, throat and lungs. Symptoms of the flu can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea. If you get the flu, you are miserable, and contagious. The CDC recommends that anyone over the age of six months get the flu vaccine (unless you have a medical reason not to) to help prevent illness. It can take up to two weeks after getting vaccinated to get the full protection of the vaccine. So do it for yourself, your family and your co-workers.

 

 

Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) has been in the news a lot this year, because of a nationwide outbreak that has been associated with severe respiratory illness. But what is it? It is a respiratory virus that is known to cause mild symptoms like fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough and muscle aches. More serious symptoms may include wheezing or difficulty breathing. Serious symptoms generally affect infants, teenagers and children, it is thought because they have not acquired immunity from a previous infection. Children with asthma are at even higher risk for severe illness. EV-D68 is most common in the summer and fall months after which respiratory illnesses caused by other viruses, like influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RVS) become more common.

 

 

Infected saliva and respiratory droplets often transmit respiratory illnesses. Protect yourself and others from Enterovirus D68 and other respiratory viruses by: washing hands often, avoiding contact with eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, avoiding kisses and shared utensils and cups with sick persons, covering coughs and sneezes with tissue or shirt sleeves, not our hands, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces (doorknobs, keyboards, toys) around someone sick. If you do get sick, stay home if you can to prevent spread to others. Always consider visiting a healthcare professional for more serious signs and symptoms such as persistent fever, wheezing, difficulty breathing, or chest pain.

 

Stay healthy!!!

 

 

 

Business Continuity Using Workplace Flexibility

 

If you have cold or flu symptoms (a fever of 100.4 F or greater, plus a cough or sore throat, and possibly other symptoms like chills, body aches, or vomiting), follow your department protocol in notifying your supervisor that you are sick and need to stay home. It is best not to return to the workplace until you are no longer contagious, generally after a fever has been gone for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine. The same is true if you are parent – please keep your child home from school or day care when they are ill. Inform your supervisor of the situation and stay home. Sick Leave allows you to be paid while you are off from work in both of these circumstances.

 

 

Should you be well enough to work, but still exhibiting flu-like symptoms (as described above), consider asking your supervisor if you can work from home until you (or your child) are no longer contagious. While not all jobs are suitable for telecommuting, it is a viable option for many of our faculty and staff and can be utilized as a way to maintain business continuity during cold and flu season, preventing spread of illness throughout the campus or in the community where our children attend school.

 

 

Managers are strongly encouraged to support employee requests to work from home during flu season where an employee’s job is suitable for them to do so, and they are able to work, but still contagious. Managers should also be supportive of faculty and staff who have children that are ill and request to work from home while they are sick and contagious.

 

 

In order to demonstrate a culture where employees feel safe to stay home and care for their health, or possibly work from home while recuperating from illness, managers should role model this behavior themselves and encourage visibly ill employees to leave work to prevent the spread of cold and flu.

 

 

It will take teamwork to combat cold and flu season this year.  If we work together, we can prevent unnecessary illness from spreading this season, maintain business continuity and productivity levels, and hopefully enjoy a healthy holiday season.

 

 

Stay Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

 

  Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

 

  Stay home when you are sick.

 

  Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.

 

  Clean your hands often.

 

  Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

 

 

 

Practice other good health habits.

Clean and disinfect frequently touch surfaces at home, work, or school. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

 

 

 

 

Additional Resources

Emory’s Flu Vaccinations 2014

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Seasonal Influenza

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Enterovirus D68

The Flu: A Guide for Parents

Cover your Cough

Emory WorkLife Resource Center

WebMD – Cold versus Flu

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Enterovirus D68

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Ebola Virus Update