MARSHFIELD — Influenza, a seasonal respiratory virus, has reached epidemic levels throughout much of the country, including central Wisconsin. As a result, Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital is asking that friends and family of patients limit their number of visits to protect patients and the staff caring for them from exposure.
“We are currently seeing patients with a variety of respiratory viruses, but influenza is by far the No. 1,” said Terri Dums, RN, MSN, CIC Infection Prevention and Control Manager at Saint Joseph’s. “In addition, we are seeing two strains of influenza circulating right now, so a person could get influenza more than once or even have two strains at the same time.”
Influenza is being seen in all age groups, but the 65 and older population has been hardest hit with hospitalizations. The second hardest hit group is children.
“For those reasons, combined with the high number of patients we are currently treating, we are asking people to refrain from visiting the hospital if at all possible. Limiting hospital visits reduces the risk of spreading the influenza virus to patients and medical staff.”
Dums added that influenza is highly contagious and can be spread even before a person is not yet symptomatic. “Someone may already have influenza and not know it,” Dums added. “Our patients are already ill and are at high risk. So we are asking people to visit only if absolutely necessary, and if possible, don’t visit at all.”