Flu season inbound

2013-05-18 00:00

IF you thought that using the bathroom at work is a bad idea, think again. The toilet seat may be the cleanest place in the office.

This is according to a recent study which tested the amount of bacteria found at the office.

Winter is coming, and with it the season of colds and flu, the amount of germs found on every-day office equipment can aggravate the chances of workers getting sick and being absent.

The study measured the Adenosine Trihosphate (ATP) count on different office surfaces.

ATP is a living cell’s source of energy, so by getting the ATP count researchers can measure the concentration of bacteria on a surface.

The results of the study shows that the average toilet seat has an ATP count of 55. An office desk has 152, a phone has 164, a mouse has 165 and a keyboard has 284.

This shows that most surfaces we come into contact with at the office contain lots of bacteria that can affect our health.

Increased visits to the hospital also accounts for an increase in illness during winter. The growing number of lethal bacteria that are resistant to all known drugs is one of the biggest health scares linked to seasonal illness. They are mostly contracted in hospitals.

Kimberly Clark Professional end-user manager Nthato Malope said: “During the flu season, there is a sharp rise in the number of people making routine visits to hospital, as a result of them feeling unwell and displaying classic cold and flu symptoms. With the real threat of contracting something far more dangerous, it is more important than ever to take a proactive response to everyday hygiene practices.”

There are 63 cases of antibiotic

resistant superbugs — collectively known as Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae — according to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases.

They first appeared in South Africa two years ago.

According to Malope, one of the simplest methods of avoiding the transfer of germs is by regularly and thoroughly washing hands.

“The workplace is an ideal breeding ground for viruses and bacteria, especially in an open-plan office environment where people work in close proximity to one other for long periods of time.

“Unfortunately many people don’t know that a flu virus can live on any surface that a sick person touches for up to 48 hours,” Malope said.

Another study shows that teachers are at a greater risk than those who work regular office jobs.

This has a negative impact on education as a whole as sickness leads to increased absenteeism. About 70% of teacher absenteeism in South Africa is due to sick leave.

This means that students miss out on 12 days of teaching time per year.

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