A nation-wide flu epidemic has resulted in school closures as well as visitor restrictions at several Grand Rapids Hospitals.
According to the Center of Disease and Control, there have been 6,486 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations reported between Oct. 1, 2017 and Jan. 6, 2018 resulting in the deaths of 20 children.
Spectrum Health Hospital and several other surrounding hospitals have limited their visitor restrictions to regulate the amount of exposure to patients. The limit consists of only allowing two visitors at a time. As of Jan. 15, there has been an estimated total of 5,580 people, both inpatient and outpatient, who have had influenza associated symptoms at Spectrum Health Hospitals.
“We are trying to limit our patient’s exposure to folks that might have the flu who are visitors,” said Dr. David Krhovsky, Vice President of Medical Affairs for Spectrum Health Regional Hospitals. “If they are themselves ill or have been exposed to someone who is ill we ask that they do not visit the hospital.”
While no local colleges have been shut down due to flu, Davenport University closed its doors through this upcoming week due to a possible norovirus outbreak. Dr. Krhovsky and the Kent County Health Department suggest that people take precautions to keep them from possibly contracting the flu. Receiving an annual flu vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent the flu. Making sure you wash your hands regularly and thoroughly can help prevent germs and infection from spreading. Avoiding contact with individuals who have been exposed or have the flu already and getting plenty of rest and drinking fluids can help boost the body’s immune system.
According to Michigan Health and Human Services, 7 percent of people have been reported of influenza-like illnesses from 2017- 2018 within the center region of Michigan. Those who have a higher risk of contracting the flu are children younger than five, and especially children younger than two years old, pregnant women, adults 65 years of age and older, American Indians and Alaskan natives.
Flu vaccines are still available locally for those who still want to protect themselves as the flu goes around. Vaccines are available at the Kent County Health Department for $41 and are accepted by several insurance companies. They are also available at Walgreen’s at no cost with most insurances.