How to protect yourself from the flu at work

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(KSFY) - Influenza activity is widespread in 49 states. Already, there are 753 cases in South Dakota this flu season.

We all know to wash our hands and cover our coughs and sneezes to stop the spread of germs. But there are other things we need to be aware of, especially in the workplace, to prevent the spread of the flu.

Internal Medicine Physician Dr. Jennifer McKay showed us the hot infection spots at KSFY and how to avoid getting sick this flu season.

Before getting to your work space, you can encounter germs. The door knob you use to get into work can be teaming with germs if someone who is sick has touched it. Dr. McKay says to avoid using your hands to open doors and instead use the side of your body to push the door open or cover your hand with your shirt sleeve.

“What's really interesting is people actually, if you set hand sanitizer out, will actually use it so that's a good way to prevent it is just make it available to people,” said Dr. McKay.

Like many workplaces, KSFY has an open concept where employees have their desks. Dr. McKay pointed out that shared work areas mean shared germs between employees. This makes it even more important to wipe down your work area at least once a day with Clorox wipes and use hand sanitizer frequently.

Even if you’re talking with a co-worker that is a few feet away, germs can be spread through the air.

“In the winter, those germs can live in the air for about four hours -- so don't think that just because you're not sharing a space very long with somebody that you can avoid it,” said Dr. McKay.

The next area was the conference room, a place where lots of employees gather for meetings.

“Just being in a close space for a long period of time can really make those germs go back and forth. Germs can live up to 24 hours on hard surface and probably up to four hours in the air,” said Dr. McKay.

Dr. McKay says getting the flu shot is the number one way to prevent the spread of the flu. It’s not too late to get one if you haven’t already.