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Going to work with the flu
January 23, 2013 9:03 PM   Subscribe

Do I really need to stay home with the flu?

Despite my cocky insistence that it wouldn't happen to me, I have succumbed, and succumbed hard, to this flu that has been infecting everybody lately. Of course, I have been staying at home - not only have I been feeling really crappy, but, as everybody reminds me, it is pretty inconsiderate to expose my office to my germs. But as I was thinking about it more, I started to have some reservations. I work in a huge company, in a giant skyscraper, in the middle of Manhattan. I would say that in a typical day, 100% of my co-workers come into close proximity (on the subway, in the streets ,in the lobby, on the elevator, throughout the office, etc., etc...) to hundreds of people and the various concoctions of germs, bacteria, and viruses that these hundreds of people are transmitting. So, if you add me to the mix, does it really make a difference? If people are going to get sick, they're going to get sick, and my decision to stay home would be moot. Or can I just continue to play video games and watch movies in bed guilt-free?
posted by odawg to Health & Fitness (32 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Stay in bed guilt-free! The best way to catch the flu is to be in close contact with people who have the flu (like you). You can't control everyone else in Manhattan, but you can control yourself. By staying at home you greatly reduce the chance that you will infect other people.
posted by medusa at 9:06 PM on January 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


Or can I just continue to play video games and watch movies in bed guilt-free?

Oh, come on, if you're not in a position where you're having to work sick because you need the money desperately and have no paid sick leave, stay home. Remember that not everyone you infect is your coworker, with the same access to health care you have.
posted by asperity at 9:06 PM on January 23, 2013 [42 favorites]


If people are going to get sick, they're going to get sick

Tautological. I'm not an epidemiologist, but I would suggest there are lots of factors contributing to the spread of flu. It's one thing to be on a subway car with someone who's sick for a few minutes, it's another thing to share the same office for 8 hours. Is your office going to burn down without you there? No? Great, then stay home.
posted by axiom at 9:07 PM on January 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Stay home. I may encounter a sick stranger for a few minutes on the subway or in the building lobby, but I need to share an enclosed space with you for upwards of 8 hours a day, and if you get me sick, I'll be highly annoyed.
posted by spinturtle at 9:07 PM on January 23, 2013


Yes, everybody's going to get breathed on by people with flu, but if they know you're at work with flu on purpose, now it's your fault if they get it. Even if they get it in a month or next winter.
posted by artychoke at 9:07 PM on January 23, 2013


After spending a hellish weekend (me, then two of my children) courtesy of co-worker "who just had to HACK come in", stay home to preserve your relationships with your co-workers.
posted by saucysault at 9:10 PM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Please stay home!
posted by dawkins_7 at 9:12 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


oh my God, stay home. You have no idea what effect your flu could have on your co-workers and their families.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:34 PM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Most folks bounce back from the flu in less than two weeks, but many develop complications requiring hospitalization, and some will die. Your question should be, "Can I go to work guilt-free?" The answer is no.
posted by kbar1 at 9:35 PM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ugh, stay home, don't be a cootie spreading jerkface.
posted by elizardbits at 9:35 PM on January 23, 2013 [23 favorites]


Dude. Stay home. I'm pregnant (read: immunocompromised) and my fucking workplace is full of "heroes" who think they're so necessary that the world can't get along without them for a few days while they ditch their fevers. Last week I actually considered staying home just to avoid all the goddamn sick people at work.

In a general sense, disregarding current immune-system situations, I hate people who come to work sick. I lose respect for them that takes them a long time to regain. To me, putting your own work tasks ahead of the health of your team is one of the most selfish things you can do. It makes it clear to me that you're a person so convinced of your own importance and the relative unimportance of others that you're willing to run the risk of doing them actual harm. People die of the flu, pal.
posted by town of cats at 9:44 PM on January 23, 2013 [34 favorites]


Ugh, stay home. My daughter is immuno-compromised, and people just would not stop coming into work while sick. I took to wearing a hospital mask at work to avoid catching anything, and I had to do a whole decontamination routine before I could see her, let alone touch her. Do you know what it's like to see someone crying for you and have to stop yourself from reaching out to her in return until you've sufficiently de-loused yourself of the germs of one martyr of a coworker?

The whole reason people catch colds and the flu on the subway, elevator or wherever is because people who are sick don't stay home. Don't be a part of the problem.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 9:56 PM on January 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


Please stay home. As I've mentioned in previous threads, I became seriously ill when I was immunocompromised on chemo a few years ago after someone sneezed in my face in public during flu season, thereby setting my treatment back for weeks (and setting up a trip to the ER as a bonus). A cousin of mine died after getting measles when he was immunocompromised after treatment for lymphoma.

Please don't take the risk of spreading serious illness. The flu won't kill you, but it could very well kill someone else -- babies, the elderly, and the otherwise vulnerable die every year from flu. So yes, everyone who stays home during an outbreak does make a difference, even though you'll probably never know it first-hand. This is what the social contract is about.
posted by scody at 10:02 PM on January 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Good lord, you must have a fever. STAY HOME! Rest and force fluids. Stay home an extra day (at least) after you feel better. There are kids and old people out there, fer chrissakes!
posted by trip and a half at 10:03 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I worked with a guy that would soldier in every time he got sick and promptly infect the entire office with the flu while making the same sort of rationalizations you're making and let me tell you we sure were delighted to find out "Hey you're going to get sick anyway not my fault" when we all mysteriously got sick every single time he got sick. We finally had HR and the head of that branch stage a "Look you have sick leave and every time you do this we shut down for a week STAY THE HELL HOME!" intervention.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:04 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is what sick days are for. Staying home makes you a hero to the hundreds of people you can be 100% positive you didn't infect! Guiltless naps and video games and awful teevee and treats on demand are your rewards for being a mensch.
posted by mochapickle at 10:11 PM on January 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Many people, especially immuno-compromised ones, are relatively vigilant about their hygiene during and after using public transport, public bathrooms, etc, but it's hard, if not impossible to keep up that level of hand-washing, non-face touching, etc all day at work.

Also at work if you have a break room, coffee machine, or a water cooler, then you touch surfaces other people might touch just before they eat or drink. If you have IT support and they have to use your keyboard after your flu-germ hands have been on it, they have a higher chance of getting sick.

Finally, it's not as though there's a threshold of sick people in public after which everyone who goes outside has a 100% chance of picking up flu germs. Every single sick person I come in contact with increases my chances somewhat. So don't add to the problem if you don't have to.
posted by lollusc at 10:29 PM on January 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Of course you should stay home! Do you really need the permission of the internet? You've got this.
posted by (F)utility at 10:41 PM on January 23, 2013


On behalf of everyone without health insurance and the financial means to stay home when we get sick, I will thank you kindly to keep your germs to yourself.
posted by Space Kitty at 10:57 PM on January 23, 2013 [13 favorites]


Stay home! Do not infect other people. The flu is more serious than we give it credit for these days. The world can continue without you.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:51 AM on January 24, 2013


You do not have flu. If you did, you would not be able to leave your bed.

Still though: stay home. Don't infect everyone.
posted by devnull at 1:39 AM on January 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


If you're able to go to work, you've not got the flu. You've got a cold.

You'll know when you have the flu, because doing just about anything other than rolling over in bed is borderline impossible.
posted by metaxa at 3:42 AM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Remember when you were a kid and your mom said something to the effect of "if all your friends went and jumped off a bridge, would you?" meaning: just because a bunch of other people do something stupid, doesn't mean that you have to go ahead and do the same thing.

I ride that subway every day and I'd be happy for each and every person who had the flu deciding to stay home. So would my husband who takes a medication that makes him immune compromised.
posted by sciencegeek at 4:13 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stay home! My stupid coworker got sick right before thanksgiving one year and still came in to work. I ended up getting sick and missed out on the entire holiday. Every time she's sick now, I tell her to fuck off and go home.
posted by Attackpanda at 5:39 AM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would say that in a typical day, 100% of my co-workers come into close proximity (on the subway, in the streets ,in the lobby, on the elevator, throughout the office, etc., etc...) to hundreds of people and the various concoctions of germs, bacteria, and viruses that these hundreds of people are transmitting.

Yeah, and if you go in and one of them catches whatever you've got, then they get to expose those hundreds of people on the way home.

You can't control the actions worth of a city's worth of people who might individually have some concoction of germs/bacteria/viruses, but you are fully in charge of your own actions and decisions that you make when you know for certain you do have something.
posted by radwolf76 at 5:47 AM on January 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nthing stay home for the immune compromised people. Because even if you don't know anybody like that, you probably know somebody who knows somebody who is immune compromised.

I've been taking heavy precautions this year (the cruel thing about being immune compromised is that you don't produce as many antibodies as healthy people do to the flu shot; it's less effective for us), and I don't go out much anyway. Nonetheless, I got the flu from my husband, who is not compromised and works in a large office where people come in sick. While he shook it off in four days, I'm going on two weeks. I'm so sick I'm getting IV fluids, IV electrolytes and anti-nausea medication at home. It totally almost killed me. I am like a walking, talking (swap: laying in bed and barfing) PSA for why healthy people should stay in if they are sick and contagious with the flu.
posted by sweltering at 5:57 AM on January 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


So, if you add me to the mix, does it really make a difference? If people are going to get sick, they're going to get sick, and my decision to stay home would be moot.

This is a logical fallacy. We don't live in a world ruled by superstition, make sacrifices to physical forces of the world or suspect witchcraft to be the cause of physical ailments.

We know what causes the flu. We know how the flu is spread. You're a jerk if you think its not your responsibility to keep the flu from spreading.
posted by fontophilic at 6:46 AM on January 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Uh, different people react differently to illness. I worked an entire day at a physically strenuous job through the pain of shingles. That doesn't make shingles not a big deal, it means I was being macho and stupid. You can't diagnose people over the internet. Stay home.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:15 AM on January 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Regarding immunocompromised people... most people have no idea how many people they know are immunocompromised. It's not visible. There are a lot of autoimmune conditions people can have which are not visible to the naked eye, but for which they may be taking drugs that keep their immune systems running on a skeleton crew. Your germy hands/breath can take somebody like this down.

Do not fuck with this. Stay home.
posted by kythuen at 8:19 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stay home. My team at work has been passing around the same nasty cold for the last month or so.
posted by madcaptenor at 10:03 AM on January 24, 2013


My husband caught H1N1 flu in 2009 from a coworker who just insisted on coming to work with the flu, because she didn't want to use her precious sick time. I could understand this from the standpoint of an employee with limited leave, but my husband's immunocompromised, and his coworker didn't have to sit by his side in the ICU while the flu turned into double pneumonia and a coma that nearly killed him. I lived like that for a month, always wondering if the next call would tell me that my husband had died. If I had known where this coworker lived, I would have driven to her house and throttled her.

Stay home, stay home, stay home, and then stay home anyway. Being sick is hard enough without angry young women fantasizing about murdering you. You can do most anything guilt-free, as long as you stay the fuck home.
posted by timetoevolve at 12:11 PM on January 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


How long have you been feeling ill? On their page titled "How Flu Spreads" CDC says:
Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.
posted by funkiwan at 1:47 AM on January 25, 2013


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