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Health Update: Staying Home When Sick Protects You, Fellow Workers, Students

Post Date:01/24/2020 12:18 PM

Chaska, MN -- Minnesota and Carver County are deep into cold and flu season, which once again has employees, employers and parents alike asking the question—how sick is sick enough to stay home?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, employees and students should stay home if they are sick with a fever until at least 24 hours after their fever is gone. A person’s temperature should be measured when they are not using fever-reducing medicines such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

When it comes to the flu, that guideline can be somewhat challenging because not everyone will have a fever. Individuals with suspected or confirmed flu who do not have a fever should stay home from work at least 4-5 days after the symptoms start.

“Persons with the flu are most contagious during the first three days of their illness,” says Dr. Richard Scott for Carver County Public Health. “If you have the flu, or suspect you have the flu because you are showing symptoms, you should stay home. If you are at work or school, go home to prevent spreading the illness.”

Dr. Scott says that in addition to the flu, there are several other common illnesses currently occurring in Carver County that require staying home from work or school. Those include:

  • RSV/Respiratory Syncytial Virus: A viral illness that begins as a cold that worsens. It is common in young children. Airways can narrow causing wheezing and difficulty breathing. After the virus enters a person’s body, it takes 2-8 days for that person to show the first signs of being sick. A person can spread the virus 3 days to 4 weeks after symptoms appear.
  • Croup: An infection that impacts young children. Croup starts as a runny nose, sore throat, mild cough and fever, often occur one to several days before the cough starts. Croup is characterized by hoarseness and a deepening, nonproductive cough (like a seal). The child may be better during the day but gets worse at night. The illness lasts 3-4 days, but the cough may last longer.
  • Whooping cough (Pertussis): A very contagious bacterial infection that often occurs in young children, but adults can also get a milder form of the illness. Whooping cough starts with a runny nose, sneezing, mild cough and sometimes a low-grade fever. After 1 or 2 weeks, a child may cough in explosive bursts that can end in gagging, vomiting and/or a high-pitched whooping sound. After the virus enters a person’s body, it can take 4-21 days (usually 7-10 days) for symptoms to start. Whooping cough requires antibiotic treatment and possible treatment for the entire household.

If you or a family member does not feel well, please stay home. It helps protect others and helps you recover. Please visit the Minnesota Department of Health website for simple self-care tips for coughs for adults or children.

Please call Carver County Public Health at (952) 361-1329 if you have questions or are in need of a low-cost immunization.