PITTSBURGH – To better protect patients during this widespread flu season, UPMC is asking people with flu-like symptoms to refrain from visiting hospitalized friends and family.
UPMC hospitals are posting signs throughout their buildings informing visitors about flu symptoms and encouraging people with signs of the flu to stay away from patients.
“The safety of our patients is our utmost concern,” said Tami Minnier, chief quality officer for UPMC. “Influenza is easily passed from person to person and can be deadly, particularly to immune-compromised patients. We ask that visitors help us protect their loved ones.”
In its 2013-2014 flu activity report, the Pennsylvania Department of Health notes there is now widespread flu activity in the state, with nearly 12,000 reported flu cases this season. Allegheny County tops the list with 881 flu cases. These numbers consist only of reported cases of influenza and are a fraction of the actual number at any given time.
At UPMC hospitals system-wide, 175 inpatients were confirmed positive for influenza or suspected positive for influenza as of Wednesday evening. This number is up from last year when flu season peaked earlier. The clinical staff uses gloves, masks and other protective measures to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Of all positive influenza tests confirmed by UPMC laboratories in the past week, 100 percent have been a strain of influenza type A called H1N1. This strain also makes up nearly 95 percent of the state’s reported flu cases.
This year’s flu vaccine covers H1N1, and people can still be vaccinated. Protection begins within a week or two of vaccination. Flu shots are offered at UPMC Urgent Care clinics.
Flu-like symptoms include:
- Body aches
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, people with the flu are contagious and can spread the influenza virus to others up to a week after symptoms appear. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune symptoms, might be contagious for a longer period.