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Got Flu? Stay Home!

"Presenteeism," the opposite of absenteeism, signifies a tendency that The Early Show's Dr. Emily Senay says could help spread flu around the workplace.

Senay points out that people who feel they just can't leave the job (that if they leave for one day, everything is going to fall apart) wind up costing the company more money in the long run in lost productivity, and they spread illness around to everyone else in the office. So it may amount to too much dedication!

The problem could be compounded this year because many of these dedicated workers who are more likely to go to work while sick probably can't get a flu shot.

Concludes Senay: "Presenteeism is not a good thing. If you're sick, you should stay home from work."

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"Sick" means the flu or anything else that's contagious.

Senay shared many tips on how to steer clear of catching or spreading flu and other ailments in your workplace.

The most common bugs transmitted around the office are colds and flu, Senay notes, and the main way those viruses are spread is from person-to-person in respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Those droplets can be propelled as many as three feet through the air and land on the mouth, nose or eyes, where they can easily enter the body.

Viruses can live for hours on the surface of objects such as tables, desks, chairs, doorknobs, phones, keyboards, elevator buttons, pens and other utensils.

You pick up the virus by touching a contaminated object or person, and infect yourself by then touching your own mouth, nose or eyes - or someone else's.

The most important thing you can do to keep from getting or giving illnesses in the workplace, Senay stresses, is to stay home until you're better, especially if you have a cough or fever. You really should stay home until you've been fever-free for 24 hours to help keep from spreading flu.

Also, avoid close contact with your fellow workers. Infected people may be unaware they're contagious for a period of time before they start to show symptoms.

It's important for everyone to know and practice personal hygiene all the time. Avoid shaking hands and other personal contact during the flu season. Sick workers should stay away from others, and not share their pens and other supplies. A diligent cleaning staff is important, to keep surfaces clean.

In addition, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands regularly, and avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose. Put your contaminated, used tissue in a wastebasket. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.

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