Flu outbreaks cause US hospitals to restrict visiting hours

Hospitals across the nation are seeking to contain the spread of the flu within their walls by restricting who can visit patients in the hospital and when.

For instance, several hospitals in the Chicagoland area are restricting visitors due to the widespread flu virus in the area, according to CBS Chicago. Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., isn't allowing people under the age of 18 to visit patients, as the flu has hit children especially hard in Illinois. Other hospitals in the area, like Advocate Condell in Libertyville, Ill., and Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights, Ill., are also restricting the age of visitors.

Two states away in Minnesota, the flu is now widespread and health systems like Minneapolis-based Fairview Health Services are also changing visiting policies at their facilities. Visitors at several of Fairview's hospitals in Minnesota are now being screened for flu-like symptoms and must also be at least 5 years old, according to the Star Tribune.

Several hospitals in the Albany, N.Y. area are also restricting visitors because of the flu, disallowing visitors who are 12 years old and younger and only allowing two visitors in a patient room at a time, according to the Times Union.

This year's flu season is expected to be especially severe because the most common strain in the U.S. so far, seasonal influenza A H3N2, is tied to more severe illnesses and hospitalizations than other strains, and the flu vaccine is less effective this year than in years past.

More articles on the flu:
Flu shots prevented 7.2M illnesses last year
Patient safety tool: AHA, AMA, APIC flu resources
Flu vaccine in kids doesn't reduce flu-related hospitalizations, study finds


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