Flu prompts visitor limits at Kingman hospital
12/28/2012 6:01:00 AM
By Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
KINGMAN - Last year's exceedingly mild flu season is a thing of the past. Kingman Regional Medical Center started restricting patient visitors on Wednesday because of an increase in the number of flu cases in the community.
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, last year the state saw a total of 10 reported cases and the first wasn't reported until Dec. 14.
This year, the first confirmed report of the flu was on Oct. 30. Since then, there have been 581 confirmed cases of the sickness in 13 counties, including eight in Mohave County.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Some people, such as the elderly, children and those with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.
The flu season typically starts in September and runs through March.
KRMC saw an increase in the number of flu cases over the holiday weekend, said Jamie Taylor, KRMC's director of Development and Public Relations.
"We had about a dozen cases between Nov. 19 to the end of last week. Then we had another 12 cases in the last four days," Taylor said. "However, it's still too soon to tell if this year will be worse than other years. Last year was pretty mild."
KRMC is restricting all visitors under the ageof 16 to the waiting areas, cafeteria and lobby on the hospital's main floor. This means no children under age 16 will be allowed to visit patients, including new siblings born at KRMC.
The hospital is also asking that anyone with flu-like symptoms not to visit friends or family in the hospital. Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. In addition, many people also have reported nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea.
Respiratory Synctial Virus is also a viral disease that appears around this time of year. It is one of the most frequent causes of lower respiratory tract infections in young infants and children. The hospital is just starting to see an increase in RSV patients, Taylor said.
Both the flu and RSV are spread through the coughs and sneezes of people who are sick with the viruses. However, it is also spread by touching infected objects and then touching your nose or mouth.
"The best thing people can do is wash their hands, wash their hands, wash their hands," Taylor said. "It's not too late to get the flu shot."