Tis the season for coughing, sneezing, and stomach bugs that seem to pass through workplaces faster than preschools. The thing is, office spaces are ideal incubators for germs and there’s rarely any fresh air in there. You might think that the biggest issue in the office for spreading germs is people sneezing and not covering their mouths, but the reason viruses move so fast is from people touching and infecting commonly shared items.
Microbiology professor Charles Gerba led a study to see how germs get passed around at work and found that four hours after they put harmless viruses on some worker’s hands, they had spread to half the other worker’s hands and half the commonly touched surfaces.
And here’s a disgusting tidbit for you: the cleanest thing in an office is the top of the toilet seat. Yep, that thing gets sanitized so often, there are 400 times more bacteria on a desk top, according to Gerba.
But how long do these germs hang out there, waiting to get you sick? Most cold and flu viruses can last two to three days on a surface, but stomach bugs can linger for up to 30 days! So you can’t avoid all the viruses, but you can reduce your risk by:
- Washing your hands often – with soap and warm water. The use a paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the door.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
- Don’t touch your nose, eyes, or mouth – it just spreads the germs.
- Use disinfecting wipes on the things everyone in the office touches – Gerba says they “reduce the concentration of viruses by 99%.” Wipe your desk and phones every day, and hit the other germiest places in the office too – computer keyboards and mouse, copy and fax machines, elevator buttons, breakroom coffee pot handle, microwave buttons and sink area.
- Avoid handshaking and hugs – it’s awkward, but tell them it’s because of flu season.
- Take care of yourself – eat foods with lots of vitamin C and drink lots of water.
- Open a window if you can – Fresh air won’t get rid of germs, but it will help with mold and other toxins that can cause allergic reactions.
- Stay home if you are sick – Everyone wants to feel like they’re indispensable, but no one wants you to come in and spread your germs around infecting everyone else.
Source: Huffington Post