The Children's Hospital of Wisconsin is temporarily banning children under the age of 12 from visiting in order to prevent the further spread of the flu virus.
Hospital Announces New Policy To Stop Spread Of Flu
The restriction will take effect on Wednesday, Jan. 9, and will be implemented at both Milwaukee and Fox Valley hospitals. The restriction does not include clinic appointments and visits to the Emergency Department.
"Viral season has begun in Wisconsin and we want to implement this restriction in advance of any increase of viral illnesses in our community," the announcement read. "Limiting visitors to our hospitalized patients will help keep them safe while they're in our care."
The hospital has not set a date when they anticipate to lift the restriction, but said that they will continue monitoring news about the flu season and then assess whether it will be safe to welcome children visitors back.
The hospital also encourages the public to get their flu shots as soon as possible. While the 2018-2019 flu season started back in fall, there are still a few more months before it ends. It is not too late to get vaccinated.
"Getting the vaccine is still one of the best ways to prevent the illness and reduce its severity," stated Mike Gutzeit, Chief Medical Officer at the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. "It's also important to wash hands regularly and thoroughly, and stay home if showing any flu symptoms."
Flu Season 2018-2019
The new policy, which was announced on Monday, Jan. 7, is a response to the current flu season. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu has already spread in almost half of the country, with 19 states reporting high levels of influenza-like illness activity.
As of Dec. 29, 2018, 4.1 percent of the total clinic visits were due to influenza-like illness. A total of 13 children have died due to the flu.
Albeit the current flu season had a slow start, the number of cases is steadily climbing. The flu spreads during the winter months when the virus is more stable when the air is cold and dry.
From 2017-2018, the CDC recorded an estimated 80,000 flu-related deaths in the United States. Of that number, 180 were children.