MARYVILLE, Ill. (KMOV) – A local hospital is putting extra restrictions in place as it continues to see more and more people in its emergency rooms with flu-like symptoms.
At Anderson Hospital in Maryville, employees who haven’t had a flu shot are now required to wear a mask at all times.
“When we have an influx of patients, we have to have the staff members healthy to take care of patients,” said Lisa Klaustermeier. “That’s the reason we do it, not to be a nuisance. It’s for the safety and protection of patients and staff.”
It’s just one of several new restrictions at the hospital. Anyone with flu-like symptoms are asked to not visit. And for those with newborn babies, Anderson is limiting visitors to four people.
“In addition, we have limitations for children under 18 asking that they not visit except siblings can be in OB area,” said Klaustermeier.
And it’s not just Anderson putting in the extra restrictions.
St. Elizabeth’s in Belleville has implemented the same precautions plus a few more, including no pregnant visitors. Just this week alone, the hospital has seen 300 people alone with flu-like symptoms.
Klaustermeier says each winter, Anderson Hospital deals with different strands.
Unfortunately, this year the flu is hitting a lot more people all at once.
“You know, they prepare based on last year and what happened last year so to say it’s a surprise you just never know what will happen,” Klaustermeier said.
Meanwhile, the St. Louis County health department says more flu cases have already been reported this year than last.
Most of the country is seeing high levels of flu-like illnesses and the St. Louis area is no different.
Last year, the department reported about 1,400 flu cases between October of 2011 and April of 2012. This flu season, the county estimates they have already seen 1,464 cases.
“While the severity of this flu season remains unpredictable, we know that an increasing number of people are getting sick with the flu and we are getting reports of severe illness and hospitalizations,” said Dr. Dolores J. Gunn, director of the St. Louis County Department of Health.
Dr. Gunn continued by emphasizing the importance of the vaccination.
“It’s not just about protecting yourself. If you don’t catch the flu, then you can’t spread it to others,” she said.
Officials said the predominant strain in St. Louis County this year has been influenza B, while influenza A has been more common in past years. Symptoms of Influenza B can be worse than those of type A, according to health officials.
The flu vaccine provides protection against both strains.
Residents who still need the seasonal flu vaccine can click here to find out where they can be vaccinated.