The Connecticut Department of Health has classified flu activity in Connecticut as widespread, with flu-related emergency room and outpatient visits both on the rise. As part of their ongoing commitment to preventing the spread of influenza, St. Vincent’s Medical Center is asking potential visitors with any flu symptoms to forgo in-person visits to loved ones who are hospitalized.
“Our staff takes every precaution to help keep our patients, staff and visitors safe during flu season,” said Corina Marcu, MD, St. Vincent’s chief quality and medical education officer. “Considering the severity of this season’s activity, we need to ask the public to help us in our efforts by being vigilant and conservative when deciding whether or not to visit, especially if they are ill.”
“The most common symptoms of influenza are fever, cough, sore throat, congestion, body aches and fatigue,” said Dr. Marcu. “Some people may also experience nausea/vomiting and diarrhea, although those tend to be more common in younger children than adults.”
St. Vincent’s encourages potential visitors to follow these recommendations prior to visiting the hospital:
- Do not visit if you are ill or have been in contact with those who have been ill with respiratory symptoms.
- Children are discouraged from visiting.
- Visits should be by patient request only.
- Consider visiting via telephone.
- If you must visit, please sanitize your hands, cover coughs and sneezes, and follow any posted isolation guidelines.
- If you have respiratory symptoms and must visit, please wear a mask. They are available in the Main Lobby, the Cancer Center Lobby, and the Emergency Room.
How the flu spreads
For years, conventional wisdom among flu experts has been that influenza was not an airborne virus but spread by fairly large droplets resulting from coughing or sneezing. However, a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates individuals with influenza can easily transmit the virus to others by exhaling flu-laden particles that can float and contaminate the air around them for minutes and even hours. In others words, even if they aren’t coughing or sneezing, individuals with the flu can launch contagious particles into the air whenever they talk or breathe, according to the report.
These new findings can prove useful for containing the spread of influenza, especially during a season of such widespread and simultaneous flu activity.
Five ways to protect yourself and others from the flu:
The following precautions are based on recommendations from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- It’s not too late to vaccinate. The first and most important step in preventing flu is to get a flu vaccination each year. The flu shot remains one of the most worthwhile ways of protecting yourself and others from influenza.
- Wash your hands frequently and cover your coughs and sneezes. These everyday actions can help slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory (nose, throat, and lungs) illnesses, like flu.
- Keep your distance. Stay away from people who are sick, stay home if you are sick and isolate yourself from others around you to prevent the spread of flu.
- Be careful in closed rooms and public spaces with limited airflow. Fogged-up windows in closed rooms (like gyms) are clues indicating inadequate air exchange, which can foster the spread of illnesses, like flu.
- Consult with your doctor, if needed. Flu viruses are highly contagious, spreading mainly by tiny droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby.
There is still time to get your flu vaccine. If you have flu symptoms and need to see a doctor, or if you need to schedule your vaccination, visit http://www.getstvincentscare.com/.