With the current flu season set to peak around February, 2011, STOKO Skin Care by Evonik advises distributors to be prepared with plenty of hand hygiene products in stock.

“January is typically a sluggish month as distributors wait and see how orders and the economy are tracking for the New Year,” notes Ron Shuster, Product Line Director. “Unfortunately, being caught with empty shelves during cold and flu season means you won’t be able to fulfill customer needs in a time-critical situation.” Shuster suggests that distributors review their policy on reserved stock levels to be certain that hand hygiene products are included in their readily available inventory. 

Although a flu season typically peaks in February, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), cases can be seen as late as May. Between 5 and 20% of the population gets seasonal flu.  Flu can be contagious a full day before symptoms of being infected are presented and can continue to be spread for up to one week after a person becomes ill. Cold weather actually contributes to the spread of colds and flu as people spend more time indoors and, consequently, are closer to one another.

While the Level 6 Pandemic declaration was removed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in August 2010, it does not mean that H1N1 flu has been eradicated. In fact, health care agencies are watching vigilantly for indications of an H5N1 Avian Influenza outbreak. In addition, antibiotic-resistant staph (MRSA) and the new NDM-1 (“Indian Super Bug”) continue to cause health concerns.  At this point, H1N1, seasonal flu, colds and staph are still health battles that are best fought on the front line with effective hand hygiene.

Survey results just released by HALLS reveal some troubling statistics. Forty-four percent of persons polled would consider going to work with a fever. Thirty-two percent said they would show up to work regardless of how sick they were this season.  In addition, as a sign of the current tough economic times, the survey states that one in five Americans feels pressured by their employer to come to work when they are sick.

“There are just so many new ways to say ‘wash your hands,’” says Lori Huffman, Marketing Manager. “We have to continue to educate and remind our customers of the importance of hand hygiene. That includes having hand cleansers and alcohol-based hand sanitizers readily available for purchase.” In addition to education, availability of product is a critical factor in developing an effective hand hygiene program.

“Supplying the knowledge and making hand hygiene products readily available can help eliminate the transmission of illnesses that contribute to absenteeism in school and in the workplace. Also, with the increased demands upon the time of healthcare providers, and escalation of the costs of healthcare, an effective hand hygiene program is a predominant factor in infection control,” Huffman points out. The CDC states that over 22 million school days, and even more work days, are missed annually due to the common cold alone.