Doctors: Don't visit hospital patients if you have flu symptoms

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Major hospitals are restricting access for younger visitors.

With cold and flu season in full swing, major hospitals and healthcare systems have a message for people with flu symptoms who plan to visit hospital patients: Don't.

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"If there's any risk of you bringing influenza into our hospital, we want to minimize that," said Dr. Cameron Wolfe, an infectious disease specialist at Duke University Hospital.

Wolfe and other health care professionals told ABC11 that well-meaning people can sometimes sicken people who are trying to recover from illness or injury when they enter a health care center with a cough, sneezing or other symptoms of a cold.

That's one reason why the major Triangle hospitals also restrict access by younger visitors.

UNC Hospitals posted this message on social media:

"To ensure the safety of our patients, children ages 11 and younger are not allowed to visit inpatient areas and waiting rooms at UNC Hospitals beginning Monday, Jan. 8, 2018."

Wake Med has a similar policy for visitors who are 12 and younger. Duke's restrictions apply to those who are younger than 18.

Down in Fayetteville, Cape Fear Valley Health will implement a similar policy beginning Tuesday, restricting children younger than 12 from visiting the hospital.

Dr. Wolfe said those restrictions are for the safety of the patients.

"We try and balance each year the desire of family and friends to come and visit their sick relatives with our desire to have the hospital be a clean place, where infection is not transmitted," he said. "For certain parts of our hospital it's not going to be your entire family that gets to visit. We're quite keen that for children under the age of 18, the hospital is not the place where you should be at this stage."

If you're healthy with no symptoms and visiting a hospital, he has one more important recommendation.

"Very frequent washing of hands," when entering or leaving the hospital, Wolfe told ABC11. "And frankly, also for our staff to be mindful that if they're equally sick or start developing symptoms while they're at work, we encourage them to go home."
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