By Robbie Owens

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – We’ve all been there.  The uncomfortable cringe and surreptitious search for hand sanitizer as an obviously ill coworker hacks, coughs, and sneezes.  While the goal may have been  ‘dedicated martyr’, the reality more closely resembles Typhoid Mary.

“Before, it didn’t even register,” says Dallas dad Ben Appleby.  But, that was before 5-month old Ryan was born.  “Now, I look around at every cough, sneeze, sniffle,  so, yeah, it is a big issue.”

The adoring dad, Appleby is always ready to bring out the latest photos.  But, he says he is super cautious now about bringing home workplace germs.  “I don’t want to take home anything that’s going to endanger my daughter at any point in her life.  But especially right now when she’s developing her immune system.”

And doctors say he is wise to be wary—as germs circulate swiftly in the often close, closed quarters of the workplace.  And the cold and flu season is officially underway.

“With cubicles now and everybody sitting next to each other, it’s real easy,” says Dallas internist Dr. Jeff Goudreau. “You start coughing, the person next to you starts coughing… it’s spread pretty darn quick.”

Dr. Goudreau suggests patients stay away from work when complaining of a 100 degree fever that lasts for 24-hours or more, experiencing a productive cough, or “you just don’t feel well, and aren’t being productive.”

“If you’re going to go to work, and not be 100% and just do nothing but spread your germs, what with your touching doorknobs, phones, those kinds of things, says Dr. Goudreau, “I would certainly stay home.”

And while you may not be able to convince a sick coworker to stop spreading germs, doctors say there are things you can do to keep your family healthy.  Getting a flu shot, says Dr. Goudreau, is at the top of the list.

“With Thanksgiving around the corner, Christmas around the corner, people are going to be getting together.  A lot of people are going to be traveling so we’ll be bringing diseases from other parts of the country down to Texas, and we’re going to be taking ours and transporting them to other places.  T

his would be the ideal time to get that [flu shot] to prevent further problems.”

And of course, a good way to help others stay healthy is to just stay home when you’re sick.

“We want to keep the family healthy, and so, ya know, I’d prefer that if you’re sick, stay home,” says Appleby. “There’s no shame in that.”

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