The average winter influenza, or “flu,” season affects employers and costs U.S. businesses approximately $10.4 billion in direct costs for hospitalizations and outpatient visits for adults, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
With the 2012-2013 influenza season off to a fast start and rapidly spreading nationwide, the financial and economic impact from co-pays and insurance for doctor visits, hospital stays, and prescription drug plans could be even larger.
The CDC’s Weekly US Map Influenza Summary Update shows widespread geographic influenza activity in 47 of 50 states as of the week ending January 5, 2013. The current weekly “flu map” is available at www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/usmap.htm.
The CDC FluView update for the week between December 30, 2012 and January 5, 2013 found states reporting high influenza-like illness (ILI) activity included Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.
While the CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against the disease, businesses can help stop the spread of the respiratory viruses like influenza by doing the following:
- If employees get sick with a flu-like illness, they should stay home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone except to get medical care or basic necessities.
- Employees should practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to prevent the spread of germs.
- Employees should wash their hands regularly and avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth during flu season.
- Employees should clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home and work when someone is ill.
The CDC is also offering “Make It Your Business To Fight The Flu: A Toolkit for Businesses and Employers” to provide information and recommended strategies to help businesses and employers during the 2012 – 2013 flu season.
For more seasonal flu information for businesses and employers from the CDC, visit www.cdc.gov/flu/business/.