Mission Health Limiting Visitors Due to Spread of Influenza

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (Feb. 26, 2016) – Due to an increase in influenza (flu) activity throughout North Carolina, Mission Health asks that family and friends limit their visits to patients in the hospital. In particular, Mission Health suggests that children under age 12 and people who do not feel well should call patients rather than visit them at the hospital. Mission Health is implementing this precaution at Mission Hospital and all Mission Health member hospitals and affiliates in western North Carolina including CarePartners in Asheville, McDowell Hospital in Marion, Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard, Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine, Angel Medical Center in Franklin and Highlands-Cashiers Hospital in Highlands.

In addition to limiting exposure, the spread of the flu can be controlled with frequent hand washing. All hospital visitors are urged to wash their hands before and after visiting. Hand sanitizing stations are available at hospital entrances and throughout the buildings.

FAQs

How serious is the flu?  Flu can cause severe illness, hospitalization and even death. Those at high risk of severe flu illness are pregnant women, children under six months old, frail and elderly and anyone with chronic disease such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or cancer.

What are symptoms of the flu? Flu usually comes on suddenly, accompanied by fever and chills, coughing, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue and headaches. Nausea and diarrhea are more common in children.

How does limiting my visits to the hospital help? Flu is a highly contagious virus that can spread from one person to another by contact or the air. The spread of the flu can be controlled by individuals limiting their exposure to the virus.

What is the best way to connect with patients when the limitation policy is implemented?  We ask that all children under the age of 12 and those who do not feel well please call patients rather than visit them in the hospital.

How can I help prevent myself and others from getting the flu or being exposed to the virus? Get a flu shot. Stay home if you are not feeling well. Flu bugs can live for two to eight hours on surfaces after someone coughs them out. Don’t go back to work until 24 hours after your fever breaks to prevent infecting other people. Practice frequent hand hygiene. If visiting a patient, please wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before entering a room and after leaving a room. Hand sanitizer dispensers are placed generously throughout the hospital. Flu vaccines are available at most primary care provider offices, drug stores, grocery stores and county health departments. Costs may vary upon dispensing location and insurance.

Is it too late to get the flu vaccine? Not at all — go get one today!

What about children?  Do they get the same vaccine? For the first vaccination, children under 2 need two shots, spaced four weeks apart, but even one shot helps. Antibodies to the flu can appear within days after vaccination and they peak in the weeks thereafter, so there is time.

Can I get the flu even after I get the shot? Yes. The CDC estimates the flu vaccine is on average about 60 percent effective. However, it’s important to note that people who have been vaccinated typically have weaker bouts of the flu, even if they do get sick. One thing to keep in mind is that if you pick up a cough or a sore throat even though you have been vaccinated, it doesn’t mean the vaccination failed. There are plenty of other bugs out there that might be making you sick.

Do I need to go the emergency room if I am sick? If you are beginning to exhibit flu symptoms, you are advised to contact your primary care physician to have your symptoms assessed. If, however, you have emergency warning signs of flu sickness, you should go to the emergency room.

What are the emergency warning signs of flu sickness?

In children:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

In addition to the signs above, get medical help right away for any infant who has any of these signs:

  • Being unable to eat
  • Has trouble breathing
  • Has no tears when crying
  • Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal

In adults:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

How long should I stay home if I’m sick? CDC recommends you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or other necessities. Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, such as Tylenol®. You should stay home from work, school, travel, shopping, social events, and public gatherings.

What should I do while I’m sick? Stay away from others as much as possible to keep from infecting them. If you must leave home, for example to get medical care, wear a face mask if you have one, or cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Wash your hands often to keep from spreading flu to others.

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