Sick at work: how to prevent spreading viruses in the office

Reported by: Ashley Cullins
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Updated: 2/04/2013 8:51 pm
RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- Researchers from the University of Arizona say one sick person can contaminate half of communal surfaces in just a few hours.

"From what I understand the flu viruses can live up to 8 hours on the surfaces of items," said Lynnie Shore, Washoe County immunization program coordinator.

Shore says she can believe what the University of Arizona scientists found when they tested the spread of cold, flu and stomach viruses throughout an office.

"It doesn't surprise me at all," Shore said. "Anytime you use something that's a public item, you certainly want to make sure to wash your hands."

The germiest things in your office are probably ones you use every day: phones, keyboards, the microwave and door handles.

Researchers estimate the employees faced a 40 to 90 percent chance of being infected by one of the three viruses by the end of the day.

"If you sneeze or cough and you use your hand rather than a tissue or the crook of your arm and then you come into contact with any kind of surface, certainly the next person that comes along can pick that up," Shore said.

Which is why Shore says if you're sick you shouldn't go to work.

"The CDC recommends that you should stay home until you're fever free for at least 24 hours," Shore said.

Shore says disinfecting surfaces can help prevent the spread, but the most effective prevention is the simplest.

"Your mom told you to do this and you need to continue to do it, wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands," Shore said.

Shore says flu vaccines are also a good way to protect yourself.

Local immunization centers:
Children's Health Center
730 Willow Street, Reno
775-870-1000

Health Access Washoe County (HAWC)
1055 S. Wells Ave., Reno
775-329-6300

Saint Mary's Immunization Program
1625 E. Prater Way, Suite 102, Sparks
775-770-7100

UNR Family Medicine Clinic
University of Nevada campus, North of Mackay Stadium
775-682-8646

Washoe County Health District
1001 E. Ninth Street, Building B, Reno
775-328-2402

Please call for an appointment. If it's for a child, bring previous vaccination records with you.
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