Are Janitors More Likely to Get the Flu?

Seasonal influenza is a contagious respiratory illness that affects approximately 5-20% of U.S. residents each year.

But who’s the most likely to get the flu?

According to a recent study of 8,700 Washington State workers conducted by the scientific journal PLOS ONE, janitors are the most likely to exhibit flu-like symptoms.

Though it might seem like teachers, healthcare workers and other professionals that work one-on-one with flu-stricken adults and children would be more prone to the bug – behind the scenes workers are actually more susceptible.

According to co-author Naomi Anderson – an epidemiologist with the State Department of Labor and Industries – the main “reason janitors are more prone to the flu is that they clean areas and objects that often harbor bacteria.”

“They’re cleaning up after us, disinfecting surfaces and touching things that are handled a lot like door knobs and handling materials and other things that could be contaminated,” Anderson went on to say.

So what’s the take away from this?

Perhaps custodial workers aren’t receiving the essential equipment and training necessary to protect them from contracting the flu. More research is certainly needed establish a cause and to find an appropriate solution.

Image Credit: Flickr