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Visitors Temporarily Restricted Due to Influenza Outbreak

January 09, 2015

McCook, NebraskaCommunity Hospital has put a temporary visitor restriction in place due to the increased outbreak of influenza in the area, according to Sharon Conroy, RN, Community Hospital Infection Prevention. Staff at the hospital is asking that people do not visit patients if they have a fever of more than 100 degrees and have a cough and/or a sore throat. Those who have been sick should not visit the hospital until they have been fever-free for 24 hours without using fever reducing medication. Children under 12 will not be allowed to visit patients during this time.

Visitors should remember to wash their hands often. Coughs should be covered by using a tissue or coughing into a sleeve.

“The restriction will be lifted as soon as we see a reduction of influenza-like illness in our area.  Influenza is an illness that most recover from, but for hospitalized patients influenza can have a devastating outcome,” Conroy said.

Symptoms of flu include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting as well. Conroy said if someone has not yet gotten their flu shot, it is not too late to get vaccinated.

Community Hospital has seen a significant increase of patients presenting with influenza-like illnesses and have had a number of positive tests.  “Keep in mind that the influenza test is only 50% accurate,” Conroy said, “So if a patient test result comes back as negative that patient still may have influenza.”

The CDC last week announced that this year’s influenza outbreak had reached epidemic levels in 36 states much earlier than anticipated.  CDC Director Tom Frieden noted that the dominant flu strain circulating this year, H3N2, tends to lead to a greater number of hospitalizations and fatalities than other strains. The H3N2 flu strain tends make people sicker.  Further, about half of the flu samples tested in the early stages of this year's flu season were a new H3 subtype of the virus that this year's vaccine did not contain. This year's influenza season so far has hospitalized more U.S. patients than in recent years, raising concerns that it could be a more severe outbreak than in the past.

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