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Hospital imposes restrictions as flu outbreak spreads

 

SARAH LOWERY

Staff Writer

 

Carolinas HealthCare System announced a tighter visitation policy this week in light of an increased number of flu cases in the region. All of its Greater Charlotte area in-patient hospitals, including CMC-Lincoln, are affected.

As of yesterday, the hospital system is restricting visitors under the age of 12 at more than 10 of its locations.

Previously, restrictions for children under 12 applied only to neonatal and pediatric intensive care units, according to a CHS press release.

The hospital system is asking individuals of all ages who are experiencing flu-like symptoms to help control the spread of the illness by not visiting patients in the hospital. Symptoms include a fever, headaches, body aches and pain, a cough or sore throat, a stuffy or runny nose, chills, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

If extraordinary circumstances require an individual with flu-like symptoms to visit a hospital patient, the visitor will be asked to wear a surgical mask to protect themselves and others, the release noted.

CHS emergency departments are seeing a higher incidence of patients experiencing flu-like symptoms. Comparing the last week in December 2011 to the same week in 2012, the number of such emergency department visits grew from 371 to 1,023.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services likewise reported in late December that flu activity across the state was at the highest levels recorded in the past decade.

Flu can be especially dangerous for people at high risk of complications, including pregnant women, people with chronic diseases, very young children and the elderly.

To reduce the odds of getting the flu, frequent hand washing with soap or use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, not touching eyes, nose or mouth with hands and getting a flu shot are recommended. If experiencing symptoms, people should stay home to prevent its spread. Flu sufferers should rest, drink fluids and take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to reduce minor pain or fever.

The Lincoln County Health Department has a limited supply of flu vaccine, which is offered without an appointment through the General Clinic on Mondays from 8-11 a.m., Wednesdays from 1-4 p.m. and Fridays from 8-11 a.m., as long as the supply lasts. The cost of the vaccine is $25.

For more information, visit www.flu.nc.gov.

 

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