With cooler months ahead, the yearly influenza (the flu) will soon be making its dreaded appearance. The flu isn’t just a nuisance that occurs yearly, it can also wreak havoc in your personal and professional life. It is very contagious and can spread quickly around your household and workplace.
In Canada alone, there are approximately 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths due to the flu every year. Continue reading to find out more about the flu.
Flu and the workplace
Flu symptoms generally last five to six days. This can cause someone with the flu to be bedridden for three to four days, thus resulting in absenteeism from the workplace. An infected person is contagious for seven days after symptoms appear. This is why the flu is able to spread so easily and quickly in the workplace. According to the Canadian Healthcare Influenza Immunization Network, approximately 1.5 million workdays are lost in a year in Canada due to the flu. Health care costs and loss of corporate productivity amounts to approximately $1 billion annually.
Australia is having a terrible 2019 flu season.
As of June 2019, there have been 31,220 people diagnosed with the flu in Australia. This number is significantly higher than June 2018, where there were only 1,984. Numbers have not been this high since before 2001. So far there have been 192 deaths from the flu in Australia.
What does the flu statistics of a country all the way across the world have to do with Canada?
According to Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases physician at Toronto General Hospital, flu season in the southern hemisphere is “not an excellent, but a moderate predictor of what the flu will be like in the northern hemisphere.”
If what is going on in Australia right now is any indication, then Canada may be facing a flu season that is high in numbers of illnesses, hospitalizations and death.
Symptoms of the flu vs the common cold
Flu symptoms usually appear 1 to 4 days after virus exposure. Symptoms of the flu and the cold can appear to be very similar. Here is a chart to help you determine whether you have the flu or just a common cold.
Who is most at risk
Some people are at a higher risk of getting the flu. These include:
- people with health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, anemia, obesity, cancer and other immune compromising conditions
- people 65 years of age and older
- people who live in long-term care facilities or nursing homes
- children under the age of 5
- pregnant women
Tips to avoid getting the flu
Anyone can get the flu. Here are several things that you can do to avoid catching or spreading the flu virus.
- avoid touching your face
- wash your hands often
- cough and sneeze into the bend of your arm, not into your hand
- clean and disinfect surfaces such as doorknobs, phones, tv remote controls
- get the flu shot which can help protect you and others from getting and spreading the flu virus
- protect you and your co-workers by arranging a workplace flu clinic at your organization
The flu can lead to serious health problems or in extreme cases, death. If you experience any health issues that may be of concern, it is recommended that you seek medical attention immediately.