SHARECOMMENTMORE

CHILLICOTHE -- Now is the time of year when people come to work with their germs in tow.

Withseasonal illnesses such as the flu threatening to sideline everyonefrom electricians to schoolteachers, some members of the workforcedecide to tough it out at the office rather than sleep it off at home.

Infact, a survey sponsored by the Cincinnati-based Cintas Corp. - aprovider of work uniforms, restroom supplies and firstaid and safetyproducts - found that 84 percent of employed adults have gone to workwhile sick.

A press release accompanying the survey even gave a name to the phenomenon - "presenteeism."

Dr.Jeffrey Hill, who specializes in occupational medicine at Adena MedicalCenter, said seasonal influenza poses the greatest threat this time ofyear. The best defense against it, he said, is a flu shot. However, hestressed that no immunization is 100 percent effective.

Signs ofthe flu include high fever, coughing, sore throat and body aches. Veryfew people get all of the symptoms associated with the virus, Hill said.

Hillsaid anyone with a fever of 101 degrees or higher should avoid going towork until at least 24 hours after the fever has broken. But he's also arealist. Although he wishes they wouldn't, he knows there are peoplewho will decide to go to work anyway.

"I think most of us thinkwe're more important (at work) than we really are," Hill said. "You haveto look at your overall effectiveness while you're ill and onmedication."

Hill recommended wearing a surgical mask and frequenthand-washing with alcohol-based sanitizer as ways to reduce the spreadof germs in the workplace. Echoing the recommendations of the RossCounty Health District, he suggested workers clean office equipment suchas computer keyboards, mouses and telephones.

If a job isconducive to it, working from home is a way an employee can be "somewhateffective and not expose their co-workers" to illness, Hill said.

"Whileemployers really don't want to see employees missing work, it makes alot more sense to allow a sick person to stay home than to encouragethem to come to work where they can make others sick," said Rami Yoakum,communications director for the Ross County Health District.

Staying home from work means staying home, period, Hill said.

"If you're too sick to go to work, you're probably too sick to go to the mall," he said.