Flu season is officially here, with flu activity peaking between December and February. The best way to prepare for flu season is by knowing the facts about this seasonal illness. The flu (influenza) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus that infects the nose, throat, and lungs. The most common symptoms you should look out for are a cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, headaches, fatigue, and fever. Now that you’ve got some of the basics down, it’s time for some myth busters – flu season edition.
MYTH #1: Getting the flu vaccine is the only way to protect yourself from the flu.
BUSTED: There are several other ways to avoid the flu this season in addition to getting a flu vaccine. Avoid contact with people who have the flu; wash your hands frequently; avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth; and routinely disinfect commonly used surfaces and objects.
MYTH #2: Cleaning the most commonly used surfaces in your facility will stop the flu from spreading.
BUSTED: Cleaning and disinfecting are very different. Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from the surface, while disinfecting kills germs on objects or surfaces and lowers the risk of spreading infections. This is especially important since the flu virus can live on surfaces for eight hours. Learn more from the CDC about how to properly clean and disinfect surfaces and objects.
MYTH #3: You can’t spread the flu if you don’t feel sick.
BUSTED: Actually, 20% to 30% of people carrying the flu virus are not symptomatic. The CDC reports that healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and as long as five to seven days after becoming sick.
MYTH #4: You can catch the flu from going out in cold weather without a coat, with wet hair, or by sitting near a drafty window.
BUSTED: Since flu season is in the winter when there is typically colder weather, many people associate the flu with low temperatures and snow. However, you can only get the flu from exposure to the flu virus, not from environmental factors.
So what have we learned by debunking these common flu myths? The flu virus is a sneaky illness, but with enough preventative measures, including good sanitation practices, you can avoid coming down with the flu this winter. The actions you take today to prevent the flu matter. Routinely cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and commonly used objects is a health safety measure that should be taken very seriously. Be prepared and make the health of everyone in your facility a priority.
For additional information about keeping your facility safe from the flu, read GCA Services’ 5 ways your facility can beat flu season. Contact GCA Services at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about the “touch point cleaning” program, which can help improve the sanitation of your facility.