SPOKANE – Influenza is commonly spread by someone coughing or sneezing who already has it but it can also easily get passed on through some common items at your workplace.
The Spokane Regional Health District says the flu is much more severe this season as the number of hospitalizations as of Tuesday is nearly ten times what it was this time last year. They’ve reported 35 cases in our area; most are elderly, compared to four from January 2012.
Common items that are rarely cleaned include keyboards, work phones, and your cell.
"Those are things that are often not cleaned on a regular basis,” said Mark Springer, an epidemiologist for the health district. “Those are things we would just encourage people to just wipe down."
Other health experts have also pointed to all public surfaces, including door handles or car keys, as likely places to spread the flu. Even outside the office, a gas pump could be a spot you catch it.
Influenza often hits the young and old more than those of working age but health district staff said that is more of a reason for you to get the vaccine, even if you are an unlikely target.
"When we get vaccinated, we protect ourselves but we also protect others," Springer said.
He adds it is not too late to get the flu shot, especially since the Spokane area sees an increase in cases until February or March.
“We have some flu activity in Spokane,” Springer explained. “We know it’s here but we probably got another four to six weeks before we peak.”