Shelbyville Daily Union

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January 17, 2013

SMH limits visitors during flu epidemic

SHELBYVILLE, IL. — Shelby Memorial Hospital is asking the public to limit their visitation to patients in the hospital.

“The Illinois Department of Public Health is recommending that hospitals limit visitors to just two per patient,” said Penny Jiter speaking on behalf of Shelby Memorial.

“We also ask that if you are sick, don’t visit.”

Jiter noted that if you must be at the hospital for a loved one and you are coughing, masks and hand sanitizers are available.

“We encourage visitors to wash their hand before and after visiting patients,” Jiter said.

“It is not too late to be vaccinated, to get a flu shot. The vaccine is recommended for everyone six months and older. The flu season normally runs through March and sometimes later. The estimated effectiveness of the vaccine is 62 percent. If you have been vaccinated, but still get the flu, the vaccine can reduce the amount of time you're sick and the severity of symptoms. By getting vaccinated, you can also help protect infants, the elderly and those with chronic diseases who are at greatest risk for complications due to the flu,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck.

Common symptoms of flu include sore throat, high fever, cough, body aches and feeling fatigued. The Department recommends you contact a health professional before going to an emergency department if you are experiencing flu symptoms. The majority of people suffering from the flu simply need to stay home, rest, use over-the-counter remedies as needed and let the flu run its course. Several hospital emergency departments have recently had to refer patients with such symptoms to other hospitals as they were at capacity. Typically only people with severe respiratory illness who have trouble breathing need to visit a hospital emergency department.

The strain of flu that is predominately circulating in Illinois and the country has historically been a more severe strain causing more hospitalizations and deaths. This year is no exception. The number of flu-related intensive care unit (ICU) hospitalizations so far this year is 368, with 27 flu-related ICU deaths. The majority of hospitalizations and deaths are of people in their 50s and older. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) expected to see an increase in the number of hospitalizations and deaths as more health care providers report cases from previous weeks as well as current cases. The Department anticipates those numbers will continue to increase.

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