There's Nothing Polite About Spreading the Flu

There's Nothing Polite About Spreading the Flu

Be a gracious host. Use the correct fork. Write that thank-you note. And for goodness' sake, don't spread the flu! Taking the necessary precautions to avoid spreading the flu is so important that even an etiquette institute named for Emily Post is weighing in on the issue.

The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) has joined with the Emily Post Institute to help spread manners, not the flu. And with a recent survey showing that nearly two-thirds of Americans who have had the flu in recent years admitted to continuing to go about daily activities even after experiencing symptoms, this etiquette advice is sorely needed.

The "Are You That Guy?" education campaign reminds Americans to do the responsible thing during flu season and practice behavior that will help limit the spread of influenza, a highly contagious virus. Flu is a serious infection and is associated, on average, with more than 200,000 hospitalizations, thousands of deaths every year in the United States and substantial medical costs.

The survey, conducted in October 2011 through ORC International's Online CARAVAN, found that nearly four out of 10 respondents are uncomfortable telling "that guy" that he or she is sick and should stay away from others. In addition, only 36 percent of the 1,044 survey participants said they would call the doctor if they thought they had the flu.

"No one wants to be 'That Guy' who spreads the flu to family, friends or colleagues," said Anna Post, great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post and co-author of the 18th edition of the Emily Post's Etiquette book. "Knowing how to politely cancel an event you're hosting or how to avoid shaking your client's hand because you're sick can be difficult and potentially awkward. By following appropriate flu etiquette, we can all play a role in preventing the spread of the flu virus."

The campaign offers the following etiquette tips:

· If you have flu symptoms at work, let your boss know right away that you need to get to the doctor. It’s better to have others pitch in while you're gone than risk making even more workers on your team sick.
· While it other circumstances it might be considered rude to cancel on a dinner party or big event at the last minute, being sick with the flu is an appropriate excuse. Call with your regrets and go see your doctor instead of spreading germs to unsuspecting guests.
· If you notice your seatmate on an airplane appears to have flu symptoms, don’t be afraid change seats if possible, or ask the sick person to please cover his or her mouth when coughing. Most people are eager to show good manners and do the right thing when prompted.

"Every year, millions of Americans get the flu. We are all personally responsible for controlling its spread," says Susan J. Rehm, M.D., NFID medical director. "The CDC recommends flu vaccine as the first and most important step in preventing influenza, as well as good hygiene and seeing a doctor for possible treatment with prescription flu medicines if symptoms arise. It's important to know the symptoms of the flu so individuals can visit a doctor quickly to get properly treated before they risk spreading it to others."

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