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Are You Breaking Swine Flu's Golden Rule?

Staying Home When You're Sick is Key Advice That Some Find Unrealistic
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Will Your Business Understand? continued...

"Nothing replaces being a good manager," Stone adds. "If your employees trust you, then you can say to your employees, 'I need you to stay home because you're sick. I will make sure you get extra hours next week to make up for it,' and follow through on that."

The question to ask yourself, Koonin says, is not how sick you are, but whether you have symptoms that mean you probably have swine flu.

"The primary symptoms are fever accompanied by a cough or sore throat," says Koonin. Other symptoms may include runny nose, body aches, chills, fatigue, diarrhea, or vomiting.

Fever, by itself, may not mean swine flu. "Usually with the flu, people have more than just fever alone. They have some other symptoms, as well," says Koonin. She adds that in May, a Harvard School of Public Health survey showed that of about 1,000 U.S. adults who were polled, 97% said that if public health experts recommended staying home for five to seven days with swine flu, they would do so.

Dealing With School Closures

The stay-at-home guideline may also mean temporary school closures or keeping kids home with flu symptoms, even if school is still open.

Gerald Harkins, associate vice president for campus safety and security at the University of Texas at Austin, kept a close watch on how local school districts for students in grades K-12 handled swine flu this spring.

"If the school districts close ... it has a tremendous impact on us, because our staff, faculty, and even students have children in those school districts," Harkins says. Several local schools did close, and Harkins says "we've worked our way through, as a region ... in terms of what are we going to do."

But he's not sure that school closures were effective.

"The thought was that if you closed the K-12 schools that [students] would then stay home and kind of self-isolate. In reality -- in many cases, in many areas, from what I understand -- they went to the mall. They didn't stay home. ... So the question is, is it better to congregate in school or somewhere else?" Harkins asks.

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