Cold & Flu Prevention



The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.


The most common flu is the seasonal flu, an illness that can be transmitted person to person. Most experts believe that flu viruses spread when people with flu cough or sneeze. A person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or nose.


You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.


There are three types of influenza viruses: A, B and C. Human influenza A and B viruses cause seasonal epidemics of disease almost every winter in the United States. The emergence of a new and very different influenza virus to infect people can cause an influenza pandemic. Influenza type C infections cause a mild respiratory illness and are not thought to cause epidemics. Cold and flu viruses constantly change and evolve overtime, making preparedness even more important.



Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website (



Cold or flu impacts organizations in two ways - absenteeism and presenteesim. Both not only affect the person that is ill, but also their fellow coworkers or students.


ABSENTEEISM – Students or employees who are absent due to cold or flu illness contribute to an organization's lost productivity. There are over 111 million work days and 38 million absences lost every year due to the flu which amounts to billions of dollars in losses. In addition, the common cold accounts for 189 million school days lost and schools spend over $2 Billion on substitute teachers each year. Extended length of illness absence can pull at the resources of the workplace or impair a student’s ability to keep up.


PRESENTEEISM – When people are ill at work or school, they increase the risk of contamination and spread of illness to their fellow employees and students. Additionally, many employers will see up to a 30% reduction in productivity for employees who are ill but still come to work. It is estimated that now up to 60% of the total cost of worker illness is because of Presenteeism.


It is important that both employers and education facilities clearly communicate their policies and expectations when someone is ill.


Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Website (



In the northern hemisphere, winter is the
main time for cold and flu. Actual timing and duration of the flu season may vary however

most flu outbreaks start as early as October and

peak in January and February.