Health officials in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky are warning residents of a widespread influenza outbreak, with some Hoosier hospitals already placing restrictions on visitors.
That has not happened here, however; Crawford Memorial Hospital is monitoring the flu situation but has not established any restrictions on visiting patients.
In response to the increase in flu cases nationwide and in the tri-state area, Good Samaritan Hospital, Vincennes, and other hospital members of the Community Patient Safety Coalition implemented unified hospital visitation restrictions effective Tuesday The restrictions include:
No visitors with influenza-like symptoms in the hospitals. Symptoms include cough, sore throat, fever, chills, aches, runny or stuffy nose and vomiting or diarrhea.
No visitors under the age of 15.
No visitors other than immediate family or other significant persons as defined by the patient and in some cases, healthy family members of newborns.
Also, visitors are encouraged to wash their hands frequently while in the hospital and wear protective face masks when instructed.
Exceptions to the restrictions, developed using recommendations from the Vanderburgh County (Ind.) Health Department, may be made for cases involving critically ill patients and end-of-life situations.
The flu can cause serious complications and even death, especially in the very young, the elderly and those with certain existing medical conditions. These measures are being taken in an effort to protect patients, families, and hospital staff. "We appreciate the community's understanding and cooperation," a spokesman said.
The Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting widespread cases of flu in the state. IDPH examines reports from many health care sites throughout the state. These sites include physician offices, emergency departments, and other clinics that report acute illness with influenza-like illness, and institutional settings such as nursing homes and prisons that report outbreaks.
Flu activity is high in Indiana, according to the Indiana State Health Department. Health officials report seven deaths so far from the virus. One of the concern surrounds Influenza B, which is normally seen later in the winter.
The Influenza B strain doesn't mutate as much as Influenza A, according to the Centers for Desease Control. Type B only affects humans and doesn't cause pandemics, although it is seen as more dangerous to young children.
Type A has many variations and is responsible for flu pandemics. It's usually passed from human to human through airborne germs, but animals can pass the illness to humans, with wild birds commonly acting as the hosts for this virus.