You may not see your office as a particularly germy or unhealthy place to be. And yet, every so often, an illness will sweep across the building, knocking down employee after employee, increasing absenteeism and lowering productivity.

The fact of the matter is, when you put many people in one building, cross contamination is bound to happen. It just takes one person who has picked up some form of bacteria or microorganism to sneeze into their hand and then use the printer or touch someone’s desk to start the inevitable chain of sickness.

Here are the top germs that spread in the workplace and make employees sick.


Commonly known as: Flu

What is it? Influenza is an airborne respiratory virus which attacks the nose, throat and lungs. Headache, blocked or runny nose, fatigue, phlegm and fever are all symptoms of this common illness.

How is it spread? The flu is highly contagious and is spread through airborne droplets caused by an infected person sneezing or coughing.


Commonly known as: Stomach Flu

What is it? Norovirus causes gastroenteritis (inflammation of intestines) which manifests as diarrhea, stomach cramps and vomiting in the infected person.

How is it spread? Another contagious virus, Norovirus is spread through contact with contaminated food, water and surfaces.

Staphylococcus aureus

Commonly known as: Staph

What is it? Staph is a type of bacteria found on the human skin, or the respiratory tract and is the leading cause of skin and soft tissue infections.

How is it spread? Because staph infects the skin, it can easily be spread through direct contact with an infected person or by equipment and other surfaces which come into contact with skin.
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Salmonella sp.

Commonly known as: Salmonella

What is it? Salmonella is a group of bacteria that affects the intestinal tract and causes severe food poisoning.

How is it spread? A person can pick up salmonella by eating contaminated food and can be passed along by not washing your hands thoroughly after a bowel movement.

Escherichia coli

Commonly known as: E.coli

What is it? E.coli is another intestinal infection that causes diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and nausea and vomiting in some people.

How is it spread? E.coli is a contagious bacteria that is transmitted through exposure to contaminated food or water.

Clostridium difficile

Commonly known as: C.diff

What is it? C.diff is a type of bacteria that causes colitis, an inflammation of the colon that results in symptoms that range from mild diarrhea to severe abdominal cramping and even kidney failure in rare cases.

How is it spread? Failure to thoroughly wash your hands after being exposed to the bacteria can lead to infection.

Helicobacter pylori

Commonly known as: H.pylori

What is it? H.pylori is a type of bacteria that lives in your digestive tract and can cause sores and ulcers in the lining of the stomach.

How is it spread? H.pylori can be picked up by eating contaminated food or water. Infected people with poor hand hygiene can spread h.pylori to other people.

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