What businesses can do about respiratory season
Respiratory season, or the period throughout fall and winter when respiratory illnesses like COVID-19, influenza, the common cold, RSV and more seem to circulate through the population most noticeably, is here. In this video, Dr. Rachel Brown, Medical Director of Prevention and Wellness for Prisma Health Employer Health Services, spoke on what businesses should know about respiratory season and how to handle it if your employees show signs of illness.
“Respiratory season is back,” said Dr. Brown. “When someone comes to you and tells you that they have symptoms like congestion, fever or cough, we don’t know what that is yet, right? Could be the common cold or an extension of allergies, as we do live in South Carolina, but it could also be the flu, COVID-19 or RSV.”
RSV rates in adults were higher in 2022 than they have been previously, so it’s worthwhile for employers to keep that in mind, as well as the usual respiratory illnesses you may be more used to dealing with, when planning for the cooler months.
Dr. Brown noted that it can be difficult to get an accurate picture of just how much certain illnesses are spiking, especially COVID-19, which can sometimes present similarly to allergies or the common cold.
She also emphasized the importance of receiving any vaccinations that you qualify for to help guard against more severe illness or potential hospitalization, but noted that the number one defense against respiratory illness is simple, but effective, hand-washing.
- Get your hands thoroughly wet with clean water. It doesn’t matter whether the water is hot or cold, what matters is that it’s running water.
- Add soap and lather well, rubbing hands vigorously for at least twenty seconds. One simple trick often used to help teach children how to know how long to keep going is to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” in your mind, and don’t stop until you’ve finished the song.
- Make sure that you scrub all the surfaces of your hands, including between your fingers and around and under your fingernails.
- Rinse the soap away, then dry your hands with a clean towel or let them air-dry.
- If and only if you are unable to wash your hands at that point in time, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can help you avoid illness-causing germs.
Dr. Brown spoke further on the individual illnesses most common during respiratory season, what vaccines are available and how they might affect the health of your employees and workplace.
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