LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Health officials at Lee Health are concerned over a sharp increase in flu cases throughout December.
They say that flu cases jumped from 200 cases during the week of December 18 to over 330 cases by the last week of the month.
As a result of that increase, Lee Memorial hospital is taking precautionary action to restricting children from visiting patients in the intensive care units (ICUs), pediatric intensive care units (PICUs) and hematology/oncology units.
"Not only to keep them safe, but also to prevent them from spreading influenza to others in the system," said Dr. Marybeth Saunders, an infectious disease specialist with Lee Health.
"Children don't always have that 'body awareness,'" she added, indicating that they don't always know to wash hands regularly and avoid touching their mouths or noses, actions which can help prevent the spread of the flu.
These restrictions apply to children aged 12 and younger. Some allowances will be made when necessary.
Lee Health also asks the community to:
- Get the flu vaccine, as well as the pneumococcal vaccine (a secondary illness)
- Practice good hand hygiene—wash hands often
- Stay home when you are ill
- Cover your cough and, if you use a tissue, dispose of it in a waste receptacle
The signs and symptoms of flu include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headache and fatigue. Some may experience vomiting and diarrhea, though that is more common in children. It is important to note, too, that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
Dr. Saunders urges everyone to use the kiosks at the entrances to Lee Health hospitals, which dispense hand sanitizer, tissue, and even face masks.