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How Does the Flu Spread?

Couple With Flu
Flu season is here. The flu season lasts from October through May, but December through February tend to be the peak months in terms of flu activity, so you need to stay vigilant about your health. Although the flu vaccine is prevalent and recommended for most adults and children, not everyone can get a flu shot — and the shot is not 100 percent effective. As such, everyone must share the responsibility of preventing the flu from spreading.
Whether you own or operate a medical facility, office building, or other type of facility, you can do your part in flu prevention by keeping your space clean. A good understanding of how the flu spreads will help you do a better job.
How Can the Flu Virus Spread?
The flu virus can spread in three primary ways:
  • Direct Contact — If you shake hands, kiss, or otherwise touch someone who is infected with the flu virus, that person can pass the virus on to you. The virus cannot travel through your skin, but if you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes with virus-laden skin, you can introduce the virus to your respiratory system, where it will quickly begin replicating.
  • Respiratory Droplets — Whenever someone with the flu sneezes or coughs, they release drops of moisture which contain the flu virus. If you inhale these tiny droplets, you will introduce the virus to your respiratory tract.
  • Surface-Mediated Contact —The virus-laden droplets released during coughing or sneezing can also settle on surfaces. These droplets can travel up to six feet before landing. When you touch the virus-covered surface and then touch your nose, mouth, or eyes, you can become infected.
How Long Can the Flu Virus Live on Surfaces?
As the operator of a public space or workspace, surface-mediated contact is the flu-spreading mechanism you have the most control over. After being deposited on surfaces, the flu virus can remain viable for at least 24 hours — maybe even up to 48 hours, according to the Centers for Disease Control. So frequent cleaning is necessary to reduce the spread of the virus.
What Surfaces Commonly Harbor the Virus?
When an infected person sneezes, any surface within six feet can technically become covered in the flu virus. There are certain surfaces that present a particular risk in an work environment:
  • Keyboards
  • Door knobs
  • Phones
  • Countertops
These surfaces become contaminated when an infected person sneezes or coughs into their hands and then touches the surface. These are the surfaces you should focus on when cleaning.
Who Can Spread the Flu Virus?
If you have a good sick leave policy, you may figure you don't have to worry about the flu since sick employees won't come to work. But sadly, people with the flu become contagious between one and four days before they start showing symptoms.
By the time someone calls into work due to flu symptoms, they have already shed and spread the virus around the workspace. A good sick leave policy is not a replacement for a good cleaning routine.
What Cleaning Agents Are Effective Against the Flu Virus?
Make note of the distinction between cleaning and disinfecting. Cleaning removes dirt and grime from surfaces — it may remove viruses, but does not necessarily kill them. Disinfecting uses an agent that kills germs like the flu virus.
To disinfect a surface, make sure your cleaner includes a disinfectant ingredient. Alcohol and bleach are two common, effective choices. Alcohol-based disinfectants tend to be safer and easier to use.
By implementing a thorough cleaning routine and focusing especially on frequently handled surfaces like countertops and door handles, you can do your part to reduce the spread of the flu this winter. If you're looking for a reliable cleaning service in the Greater Little Rock Area, contact Metro Maintainers Building Services.