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Influenza on the Rise

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Nationally, B/Victoria viruses are the most common followed by A (H1N1) virus. The predominant virus varies by region and age group. There seems to be low circulation of A (H3N2) and B/Yamagata virus. The current season quadrivalent influenza vaccine covers 2A strains and 2 B strains. The viruses are A/Brisbane, A/Kansas, B/Colorado (like virus B/Victoria) and B/Phuket (like virus B/Yamagata). It is still available in local pharmacies, clinics and at Midland Memorial Hospital for inpatients

Midland Memorial Hospital (MMH) has experienced the significant increase in the flu activity through our Emergency Department (ED). In early December, MMH ED was seeing 285 ILI a week with only 20% being positive for flu. Since Christmas, the MMH ED activity has increased to 473 ILI with 45% of those having confirmed influenza. Each week in December the number has risen. The hospitalizations of individuals has increased as well, with 19 hospitalizations in the last week with flu diagnosis.

Thus Midland Memorial has enacted our Level 3 Flu visitation plan. This plan includes requiring hospital employees that have not received the seasonal flu vaccine to wear masks. We are asking visitors who have NOT received a flu vaccine or have been ill to not visit. If you feel you must visit then please, wear a mask while visiting our patients. We are limiting our visitors to 2 per patient at any given time and children under 14 are not allowed on the patient floors or waiting rooms.

Our Environmental Services department is spending significant effort to wipe down door handles, stair railings, and other high touch surfaces frequently and we have posted signage at entrances regarding not visiting if you are ill. We offer alcohol based hand hygiene stations, masks and tissue for all those entering the hospital. These enhanced precautions are to protect our patients and will continue until we see a significant decrease in the flu season.

Recommendations to avoid the flu and stay healthy is to wash hands often, cover your coughs and sneezes by using a tissue or cough into your elbow, not your hands, drink plenty of water and avoid large crowd where you have to be close to others.

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