Preventing Winter Stomach Flu

Winter is a time when flu viruses spread easily among people in close quarters. But there are things you can do to minimize the chances of infection and outbreak.

This is particularly important in the case of Norovirus, or the “Winter Vomiting Bug.” Norovirus is the cause of a particularly nasty form of stomach flu, and it is most prevalent in the winter months.

Outbreaks of this bug result in as many as 21 million cases each year and 1.9 million hospital visits.

Cintas, a company that offers business services, is offering tips for preventing outbreaks of Norovirus.

Here are the things to pay close attention to:

  • Door handles. Because they are one of the most touched surfaces in a facility, it’s important to regularly wipe down and disinfect all door handles within a building. This includes doors to offices, restrooms, storage areas, refrigerators, as well as the front and back entrances that are often used by employees.
  • Community tables. Whether it is in a conference room, waiting area or in an employee cafeteria, table surfaces are touched often and should be regularly cleaned and disinfected.
  • Elevators. Touched daily by employees or guests, elevator buttons can be a likely source for virus transmission. Wipe down elevator buttons on a daily basis and sanitize them at least once a week.
  • Community benches and chairs. Because they are designated for sitting, seats might be an overlooked part of the cleaning and disinfecting process. To prevent the spread of bacteria and norovirus infection, clean all parts of the seat, including the bottom and arm rests.
  • Light switches. Although light switches in primary areas of a facility, such as the lobby, might be touched only once a day, light switches in other areas like meeting rooms, offices or the restroom are used more frequently and require additional cleaning.
  • Employee kitchen equipment. Clean and wipe down the surfaces of all kitchen and break room equipment, including large items such as dishwashers and microwaves and smaller equipment such as coffee makers and toasters.
  • Drinking fountains. Drinking fountains can become contaminated by a variety of germs from the user’s mouth and hands, which is why it’s important to disinfect their surfaces – particularly their spouts and handles daily.
  • Railings. Located alongside stairs or at the top of an atrium or overlook, railings and handrails should be cleaned and disinfected daily.

That’s a lot of cleaning, isn’t it? Most offices and schools aren’t cleaned this thoroughly – never mind homes. But only this level of attention to detail can keep these pesky microorganisms from spreading in closed winter environments.

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