Henry County is experiencing a late outbreak of seasonal flu with children and the elderly being the most adversely affected, although all ages are getting the flu. With an estimated 6 percent of Henry County residents with the flu, visitor restrictions began Wednesday, March 29 at Henry Community Health’s Main Campus/Hospital.
At this time restrictions are only for those visitors under the age of 18. No person under 18 is to visit any inpatient within the hospital unless they are a parent visiting a sick child in the Women & Children’s Unit. Children who may need to come in with parents who are seeking help in the Emergency Department are allowed, but will need to remain in the Emergency Department area.
Anyone with flu-like symptoms or if you think you have been exposed to the flu, also are urged not to visit anyone in the hospital or extended care facilities.
Signage has been placed throughout the Hospital advising visitors and staff. This message also may be seen throughout the Henry Community Health system.
It is hoped by limiting visitors within the hospital to keep the spread of flu here low and not expose patient, staff and other visitors to the flu.
Infection Preventionist Teresa Thacker, RN says, “As always in flu season be sure to use good respiratory etiquette and cover your cough by coughing into your sleeve – you know, like a vampire.
“You also need to be vigilant about good hand washing to cut down on the amount of bacteria that is left on surfaces in our environment. Wash your hands often,” she added.
Protective masks and hand sanitizer stations are available throughout the Hospital for your convenience.
Thacker reminds everyone that people can shed the flu virus for several days before symptoms start and they are contagious even without fever for 7 days after the symptoms begin.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) says Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
- Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
* It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
Most people who get influenza will recover in several days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications as a result of the flu. A wide range of complications can be caused by influenza virus infection of the upper respiratory tract (nasal passages, throat) and lower respiratory tract (lungs). The CDC says, while anyone can get sick with flu and become severely ill, some people are more likely to experience severe flu illness. Young children, adults aged 65 years and older, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic medical conditions are among those groups of people who are at high risk of serious flu complications, possibly requiring hospitalization and sometimes resulting in death. For example, people with chronic lung disease are at higher risk of developing severe pneumonia.
Sinus and ear infections are examples of moderate complications from flu, while pneumonia is a serious flu complication that can result from either influenza virus infection alone or from co-infection of flu virus and bacteria. Other possible serious complications triggered by flu can include inflammation of the heart (myocarditis), brain (encephalitis) or muscle (myositis, rhabdomyolysis) tissues, and multi-organ failure (for example, respiratory and kidney failure). Flu virus infection of the respiratory tract can trigger an extreme inflammatory response in the body and can lead to sepsis, the body’s life-threatening response to infection. Flu also can make chronic medical problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic heart disease may experience a worsening of this condition triggered by flu.