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Turning the Tide on Presenteeism

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Jan Blog one
COVID-19 May Influence How Seasonal Infections are Diagnosed and Managed
 
  • A Majority of people prefer to show up for work then stay home and recover from an illness
  • SARS-CoV-2 rapid test deliver results in minutes and are becoming widely available
  • The number of COVID-19 and streptococcal co-infections were expected to rise
  • Symptoms are common between COVID-19 and Strep and can cause confusion



You have crossed paths with them in your workplace. They are the snifflers, the coughers, the feverish, who instead of staying at home to recover from their illness, choose to soldier on. They may need the pay, they may seek kudos from their boss, or they may fear falling behind in their work. Regardless of the reason, they share one thing in common: They would rather show up at work than get tested for influenza or strep throat and take proper precautions.

A study by health insurer Vitality found that 45% of UK workers admitted to engaging in presenteeism in 2019, up almost a third from 2014 (29%). (Presenteeism refers to working with a condition that is probably contagious and more than likely will prevent the person from functioning productively.) And in its recent annual Health and Well-Being at Work survey report, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found the vast majority (89%) of respondents had observed “presenteeism” in their organization over the last 12 months, and over a quarter of them reported the activity had increased.

 


 

Hancock believes COVID-19 may help turn the tide on presenteeism. He told lawmakers that once the pandemic has passed, he would like to see the diagnostic capacity that has been built for COVID-19 extended to other illnesses, such as flu and strep.

 


 

How bad is it? Bad enough for British Health Secretary Matt Hancock in November to call people in the UK “peculiarly unusual and outliers” for going to work when unwell, despite the pandemic. And it turns out the British aren’t the only peculiarly unusual ones. Ninety percent of employees surveyed by U.S. staffing firm Accountemps admitted to going to work sick. One-third said they always go to the office with cold or flu symptoms.

Hancock believes COVID-19 may help turn the tide on presenteeism. He told lawmakers that once the pandemic has passed, he would like to see the diagnostic capacity that has been built for COVID-19 extended to other illnesses, such as flu and strep

Indeed the pandemic may already have made people more comfortable with diagnostic testing. Witness the lines of automobiles at curbside testing sites in the earliest days of the pandemic. By November, SARS-CoV-2 rapid tests, which deliver results in minutes, were becoming widely available.

As flu season descended on the Northern Hemisphere, experts predicted clinicians would rely on testing to distinguish COVID-19 and influenza virus among their patients. The National Institutes of Health recommended that when influenza and SARS-CoV-2 are cocirculating in the community, SARS-CoV-2 testing should be performed on patients with suspected COVID-19, and influenza testing should be considered for those with suspected influenza, if the results are expected to change clinical management of the illness.

Also this fall, the number of COVID-19 and streptococcal co-infections were expected to rise. “There are a lot of symptoms and signs which can be confusing in people if they develop a sore throat and a fever, that can be very common both in a patient with strep throat and COVID,” Dr. Sandeep Gupta, pulmonologist, UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s in Sioux City, South Dakota, told local TV station KITV.

 

Solutions

SEKISUI Diagnostics provides a range of simple-to-use rapid tests to help clinicians identify strep throat, RSV and Flu. They provide results in under 15 minutes, enabling the patient to be diagnosed and treated in one visit, minimizing the risk of spreading the infection to co-workers, family members and others.

  • OSOM® Strep A test and OSOM Ultra Strep A tests are color immunochromatographic assays intended for the qualitative detection of Group A Streptococcus antigen directly from throat swab specimens. Results in 5 minutes.

  • OSOM® RSV/Adeno test is a rapid chromatographic immunoassay for the qualitative detection of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and/or Adenovirus antigens directly from nasal swabs or nasal suction fluid in patients suspected of having a viral respiratory infection. Throat swabs are also an acceptable sample type for the detection of Adenovirus antigens. Results in 10 minutes or less.

  • OSOM® Ultra Plus Flu A & B test is a qualitative test that detects influenza type A and type B nucleoprotein antigens directly from nasal swab and nasopharyngeal swab specimens obtained from patients with signs and symptoms of respiratory infection. Results in 10 minutes

 

Because of the COVID-19 experience, clinicians and patients may change their approach to identifying and managing viral infections. With widespread use of reliable rapid tests, presenteeism may decline, replaced instead with prudent absenteeism, higher productivity in the workplace, and better health for all.

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Keith A. Nichols

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