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Harris visits limited after spike in flu

The Sylva Herald & Ruralite of Sylva, North Carolina

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Med West-Harris hospital has restricted patient visitations to those 12 years or older due to a sharp rise in the number of flu cases in the community.

Family and friends are asked to call patients in the hospital instead of visiting, said Lucretia Stargell, hospital communications director.

Additionally, visitors should not come to the hospital if they have symptoms of respiratory illnesses such as fever, cough, sore throat, sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, headache, nausea or vomiting.

Anyone with symptoms who must be on the medical campus for tests or medical procedures in an outpatient setting must wear a mask or use a tissue to cover their nose and mouth. Visitors also are encouraged to clean their hands with alcohol hand sanitizer and sit at least three feet away from others.

The Mother/Baby and Labor and Delivery units are off limits to everyone except immediate family members: parents, significant others and grandparents.

At Harris, about 20 percent of all patients to the emergency room are there for flu-like illness, according to Patty Ward, vice president of nursing.

Visitors are urged to wash their hands before and after visiting hospitals. Hand sanitizing stations are available at hospital entrances and throughout the buildings.

North Carolina health officials have called this the worst flu season in a decade, with 14 flu-related deaths reported so far.

"It's very unusual for us to see this many deaths so early in the flu season," state Health Director Laura Gerald said, adding that health officials strongly recommend that anyone older than 6 months be vaccinated.

Health officials say the vaccine is well matched to the strains of flu that have surfaced in North Carolina.

Vaccination is particularly important for people at high risk of complications, including pregnant women, people with chronic diseases, very young children and the elderly.

The flu vaccine is available in several forms:

As a nasal spray for healthy, non-pregnant people ages 2 to 49 years.

As a regular flu shot for people ages six months and older.

As an intradermal flu shot that uses a needle 90-percent smaller than the regular flu shot and is approved for people 18 to 64 years of age.

As a high-dose flu shot for people aged 65 and older.

The flu season normally peaks in January or February.



Copyright 2013 The Sylva Herald & Ruralite, Sylva, North Carolina. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: January 3, 2013



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