POSTED 7:19 PM, JANUARY 8, 2020, BY SEAN MCDOWELL
LENEXA, Kan. -- The flu bug is taking a big bite.
Employees across the Kansas City metro are battling illness. One local physician told FOX4 this year's wave of flu-related illness is the worst he's seen in five years.
Managers at one Johnson County cleaning company said they're cleaning up by flu-proofing offices with deep, focused maintenance.
Infectious bugs don`t get into your bloodstream without a little help.
Lenexa-based Stratus Building Solutions specializes in cleaning up office surfaces where flu-causing viruses collect. Ryan Robertson, Stratus' local vice-president, said his company and its affiliates clean up to 450 workplaces per week.
The Center for Disease Control says people touch their hands to their mouth, eyes and nose 16 times per hour. Robertson said it's a priority to clean door knobs, handles and phones where those hands work.
Office bathrooms and kitchens are traditional breeding grounds for germs that cause influenza, especially in offices where employers are hungry to keep their staffs healthy.
"They don't want lost time. Lost time is lost money," Robertson said.
Robertson said many janitors forget about handles on refrigerators and office copiers. Robertson said doorknobs are also another spot where unclean hands can easily pass microbes on from one carrier to another.
Physicians often remind people that frequent hand-washing, along with getting the flu vaccine each year, can help reduce the risk of getting sick.
Robertson said items as small as pens can become landing surfaces for cold and flu germs, and he often recommends businesses toss them out after every significant health concern passes through high-traffic offices.
"We clean it like it's a health environment. When you have flu going around, and you have germs on top of surfaces, it's got to be wiped. If it's not wiped, you're at risk," Robertson said.
"You can easily deposit cold virus or influenza virus on those surfaces. The danger comes when you are touching those surfaces, and then, you touch your eyes or your nose. That's how you get infected from those viruses, even from cold surfaces or inanimate objects," said Dr. Dana Hawkinson, an infectious disease physician with the University of Kansas Health System.
Hawkinson said he agrees that deep cleaning an office can keep employees healthy for a longer period of time, but those concerns aren't as high in home environments since traffic flow is typically lower.
CDC totals also show more than 70 million employee work days are missed each year due to illness.