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With flu counts rising, local hospitals are taking precautionary measures

Bronson announced it is severely limiting who can visit patients right now, as Michigan's flu case count rises.

Bronson announced it is severely limiting who can visit patients right now, as Michigan's flu case count rises.

The healthcare system says the restrictions are similar to what other hospitals are doing, and the measures aim to protect patients and visitors from the flu.

Under new guidelines released today, visitors at any of the Bronson Hospitals must be 15-years-old and older.

And, only two visitors are allowed to visit patients in emergency departments.

“You want to eliminate that risk, that high risk population spreading the virus in the hospital,” Dr. Richard Van Enk, the director of infection prevention and epidemiology at Bronson Hospital, said.

Dr. Van Enk says these measures are standard for hospitals during each flu season.

“It is possible - if you're not careful - to spread diseases in the hospital,” Dr. Van Enk said.

Similar measures are in place at Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo. All visitors at the hospital must be 15-years-old, unless visiting an immediate family member.

The CDC says 46 states, including Michigan, are dealing with a widespread flu problem.

Michigan Health and Human Services has reported that sickness due to influenza may be more widespread this year.

“For the beginning of the season, it was very normal, like an average year,” Dr. Van Enk said. “About 10 days or two weeks ago, it jumped, and it jumped very quickly.”

Authorities report that may be because flu shots appear to be less effective against a strain of the virus called H3N2,” Dr. Van Enk said. “It provides some protection, but it's not going to be near 100 percent.”

People can still get their flu vaccine, and it will still do some good. It’s still a worthwhile investment this year, as hospitals and other medical outlets will be promoting getting the vaccine into April.

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