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Area hospitals restricting visitors because of flu concerns

SALISBURY — Beginning today, area hospitals will temporarily restrict visitors ages 12 and younger because of the growing number of flu cases in the region and to help control the spread of the virus.

During the week ending Saturday, six influenza-associated deaths were reported in the state, raising the season’s total to 35, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

That number does not represent all flu-associated deaths in the state since many go undiagnosed or unreported, the agency said.

There is about a 60 percent chance that the flu season has not yet peaked and that the highest level of flu activity will be this month, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Novant Health, Atrium Health, Cone Health, Randolph Health and Wake Forest Baptist Health have placed age restrictions on all their facilities and are asking people 13 and older with flu-like symptoms not to visit patients.

Flu symptoms include fever, headaches, body aches, cough or a sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, chills, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Most people with the flu have a mild case and do not need medical care, but those with flu symptoms, in most cases, should stay home and avoid contact with other people, hospital officials said.

Flu sufferers should rest, drink fluids and take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to reduce minor pain or fever.

Hospital officials said those who seek treatment at hospitals are not subject to the restrictions.

“The first line of defense against the flu is to get vaccinated,” said Meredith Littell, nurse director at Rowan Public Health.

The department still has vaccine available and encourages residents get one by an appointment or visiting a local pharmacy.

“It’s not too late,” Littell said.

This year, there have been fewer cases of confirmed flu compared to the same time last year, Littell said.

She said one reason could be that people are providing self-care and not going to the hospital.

Littell said it’s important for people to wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer. She also recommends anyone who thinks he has the flu should stay home. The CDC recommends that sick people stay home until they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours.

She said people who feel worse or feel the need to see a doctor right away should do so to confirm a flu diagnosis and get treatment.

Flu season is from October to March or April. The virus usually drops off in March.

To make an appointment with the Public Health Department for a flu vaccine, call 704-216-8782.

One North Carolina school system has canceled classes because of a flu outbreak, the Associated Press reported. Ashe County Public Schools announced Thursday that classes will be canceled for both students and staff Friday because of a local increase in flu cases.

Superintendent Phyllis Yates says 452 students were out sick from the system’s five schools and early learning center. Another 38 students who came to school were sent home.

Yates also says 30 teachers are out sick and substitutes couldn’t be found to replace them.

Yates said work crews will deep clean and disinfect the schools Friday with hopes of reopening Monday. All local sports activities are canceled.

 

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