Pardee UNC Health Care Implements Visitor Restrictions for Flu Season and Pertussis Outbreak
Pardee UNC Health Care announced today that it will implement visitor restrictions, effective Monday, Dec. 11, in response to flu season and the Henderson County pertussis (whooping cough) outbreak. As part of visitor restrictions, Pardee asks that:
- All children (12 and under) not visit patient rooms because children are more susceptible to infections and can be ill without obvious symptoms.
- All adults refrain from visiting loved ones in the hospital if they feel ill or have the following symptoms: headache, muscle aches, cough, fever, sore throat, and/or runny or stuffy nose.
- Anyone with such symptoms wear a mask if they must visit the hospital or a physician’s office.
The Henderson County Department of Health (HCDH) has reported 20 confirmed cases of whooping cough in the community, not only in schools. These 20 cases have about 1,000 close contacts who may be exposed. Pertussis is a serious respiratory infection caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis and is especially dangerous for infants, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems.
Like the flu, it is spread by droplets released when coughing, sneezing or talking. Symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, mild cough, low-grade fever (five to 10 days, up to 21 days), and coughing fits followed by vomiting and difficulty breathing. People with pertussis can be infectious for up to 21 days without symptoms and the illness can last for months. Antibiotic treatment given early may decrease the duration and severity of cough and reduce transmission. Antibiotics are likely less effective in reducing symptoms in later phases of the infection. Vaccination is the best way to prevent pertussis infection.
Pardee is not yet seeing many flu cases, but expects an increase during and after the holidays. Flu symptoms include headache, muscle aches, cough, fever, sore throat, and/or runny or stuffy nose.
If you have flu or pertussis symptoms, you can reduce the chances of spreading it to others by covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the crook of your arm (not your hands); washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water or using hand sanitizer after coughing or sneezing, and before and after touching your face, nose and mouth; and not sharing utensils or cups.
For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/pertussis/ or http://www.hendersoncountync.org/health/web_pages/pertussis.html.