Rates of influenza have risen enough statewide and in Western North Carolina that Mission Hospital in Asheville is asking people not to visit people in the hospital unless they are next of kin or their closest contact. Visitors are also asked not to bring teenagers and children. As always, visitors are urged not to visit if they feel ill or are coughing or sneezing, and to wash or sanitize their hands before and after visiting patients and entering or leaving the hospital. Hand sanitizing stations and dispensers are available at hospital entrances and throughout the buildings.
As of Thursday, Mission had seen nearly a dozen confirmed cases of influenza. These numbers are typical at this time of year. No cases of H1N1 have been confirmed locally as of January 19.
Flu typically peaks during the month of February. People who have not yet taken the influenza vaccine are urged to do so immediately, and to ensure that their children have been vaccinated. The first influenza death of 2011 in North Carolina was a 15 year old who had not received the vaccine.
Vaccines are available through your regular healthcare provider or at many county health departments.