Vidant Hospitals restricting child visitors starting today

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Medical experts say we are in the peak of flu season and so far it has been a deadly one.

More than 40 people in our state have died from the virus, most recently a 6-year-old girl.

To keep the virus from spreading, hospitals are setting visitation restrictions.

Vidant Medical Center in Greenville is one of seven other Vidant Health hospitals that is no longer letting children under the age of 12 visit patients in their care.

Medical experts say these restrictions will help prevent the virus from spreading.

"The numbers are higher and the people who are getting sick with it tend to be a little bit sicker," says Dr. Alex Dalzell, Vidant's infection prevention director.

Emily Muth, 6, from Cary, passed away recently from the flu. Within a few days of her showing symptoms, it was too late, and her mother hopes it's a warning for other parents to get their children vaccinated.

Shandy Moore is the mother to 3-year-old Myah. Moore says she knows the flu can be deadly, but it is still shocking to hear about these tragedies.

"Knowing that a child is six years old, not even able to go anywhere in the world or see anything, is very very scary, and we definitely take precaution in what we are doing," Moore tells WITN.

Hospitals across the east are also doing just that. At Vidant Medical Center and six other Vidant hospitals, every visitor who walks through their door now has to be 12 years old or older and healthy.

"We think under 12, most of those children cannot tell their parents, 'Hey, I'm not feeling well' until you start seeing it in the way they act," Dalzell says.

Unfortunately, experts say the flu is most contagious before symptoms start.

Doctors say you can help prevent spreading the virus by washing your hands, coughing into your arm, and keeping things clean.

Dalzell says this year's flu shot is about 40-percent effective, which is lower than usual, however, they say it is still the best way to protect yourself from the flu.

These hospital restrictions are only temporary and apply to everyone under the age of 12. The only exception is that a healthy child under 12 can visit a newborn sibling.

The hospitals with these restrictions are:

· The Outer Banks Hospital in Nags Head

· Vidant Beaufort Hospital in Washington

· Vidant Bertie Hospital in Windsor

· Vidant Chowan Hospital in Edenton

· Vidant Duplin Hospital in Kenansville

· Vidant Edgecombe Hospital in Tarboro

· Vidant Medical Center in Greenville


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Due to an active flu season, visitor restrictions are in place at a number of local hospitals starting Tuesday, January 23.

Children under the age of 12 will not be allowed to visit patients at each of the following Vidant Hospitals across Eastern Carolina:

· The Outer Banks Hospital in Nags Head

· Vidant Beaufort Hospital in Washington

· Vidant Bertie Hospital in Windsor

· Vidant Chowan Hospital in Edenton

· Vidant Duplin Hospital in Kenansville

· Vidant Edgecombe Hospital in Tarboro

· Vidant Medical Center in Greenville

Officials say the restrictions are temporary and will be lifted as soon flu activity decreases throughout the community. The only exception to the restriction is if a healthy child under the age of 12 is visiting a newborn sibling.

So far this flu season, there have been 42 reported flu deaths across North Carolina, including the deaths of 3 children.

Health officials say the particular strain of the flu that is going around, H3N2, is more severe and contagious.

Officials say the flu shot is the most effective way to fight the virus. Symptoms include a cough/ sore throat, chills, fatigue, headaches or body aches, nausea/ vomiting and/ or diarrhea, as well as a 100 degree fever or higher, according to the CDC.