Influenza a Common Gastonia Work Illness as Seasons Change in North Carolina

At this time of year we would like to remind employers to be proactive when it comes to flu prevention in the workplace. Catching the flu at work and bringing it into households with young children, elderly residents and those with compromised immune systems can be troublesome.
Our North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers in Gastonia and elsewhere understand that this year’s flu vaccine will protect you against three influenza viruses: A (H1N1), A (H3N2) and influenza B virus. Three types of flu include:

Seasonal influenza

This is a respiratory illness outbreak in the U.S., usually occurring in the fall and winter. Outbreaks are usually limited, and many people have immunity to the particular virus strain. To prepare for the flu season a vaccine is made in advance to match the particular strain.

Pandemic influenza

This is an outbreak of a new virus strain that happens worldwide that can be passed from person to person. In the early stages of an influenza pandemic, few people will have a natural immunity to the new strain. This leads to more people getting sick, thus increasing the spread of the virus. Since it is a new strain there may not be a vaccine or if there is, there will be limited availability for many months. Currently there is no influenza pandemic but it is feared that it is only a matter of time before the next one occurs. The severity of it is unpredictable and could be anything from a bad flu season to a catastrophic influenza pandemic that could lead to vast numbers of sick people and fatalities, economic loss and social disruption. The 2009 pandemic flu was deemed mild by the CDC but it exposed many issues in the workplace that employers were not ready for.

Avian influenza (AI)

Bird flu is a virus that infects domestic poultry and wild birds and varies in its form. The virus is grouped by low pathogenic and highly pathogenic strains. Low pathogenic naturally occurs in wild birds and can extend to domestic birds. It causes very mild or no symptoms in the birds and has no effect on humans. The low pathogenic strain can lead to the highly pathogenic strain which can result in rapid spreading and death to the birds. The H5N1 strain can be spread to humans.

How employers can minimize the risk of spreading pandemic flu in the workplace:

-Advise ill workers to stay home.

-Instruct workers to frequently wash their hands and try to not touch their eyes, mouth and nose.

-Advise workers to sneeze or cough into their sleeve and they should wash their hands after blowing their nose, sneezing or coughing.

-Supply the public and customers with trash cans, tissues and an area to disinfect or wash their hands.

-All work surfaces, computer equipment, telephones and other repeatedly touched items and surfaces should be cleaned with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved disinfectant.

-Discourage your workers from using other worker’s equipment and work area.

-Cancel group outings and avoid unnecessary meetings.

-Promoting a healthy lifestyle will increase the body’s immune system to fight off the flu. Programs should include exercise, smoking cessation and good nutrition.

-Workers should avoid contact with other workers when possible. It is recommended to maintain a separation of at least 6 feet.

If you or someone you know is dealing with a workers’ compensation issue or trying to handle a disability claim, contact Lee Law Offices, P.A. for assistance regarding your rights. Call 1-800-887-1965 for a free initial consultation to discuss your rights today.

More Blog Entries:

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation System Detailed by Experienced Workers’ Comp Law Firm, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, October 4, 2011.

Experienced North Carolina Law Firm Can Help with Complicated Workers’ Compensation Claims in North Carolina, South Carolina, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, September 12, 2011.

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