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Flu dangers triggering hospitals to adopt new restrictions

Health officials in San Bernardino and Riverside counties reported three flu deaths this week.
January 10, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
The flu is taking deadly aim this winter, and that has hospitals across California implementing changes to contain the virus. This comes as the flu claimed more lives in Southern California.

The County of San Bernardino Department of Public Health on Friday confirmed its first two flu deaths this season. Officials say a man and a woman between 21 and 65 years old died earlier this week. They both tested positive for the H1N1 virus and both had pre-existing medical conditions.

Riverside County health officials say a 30-year-old man from Coachella Valley passed away earlier this week. He also tested positive for the H1N1 strain of influenza. He is the county's first flu death of the season. Officials have not confirmed whether the man received a flu vaccine.

At least seven deaths have been reported statewide so far. At Los Angeles County Medical Center in Boyle Heights, the hospital has modified its visitation policy because of the flu season.

New restrictions:

  • Children 16 and under are not permitted to visit in-patient care units
  • Visitors with flu-like symptoms will not be allowed
  • Visitors must use hand sanitizers/wash hands
  • Patients seeking treatment for flu-like symptoms must wear a surgical mask or use hand sanitizer

One San Jose hospital even set up a tent next to the emergency room in order to treat people with flu-like symptoms. Most patients there have tested positive for the H1N1 strain. The hospital is separating them in an effort to keep the virus from spreading to patients in the emergency room. The tent will likely be up for another two weeks.

Health officials say flu cases among healthy young adults are on the rise.

"Healthy young adults in the past have been less likely to get the flu vaccine, and for the last five years, it's included protection against H1N1 - not complete protection but it's some," said Dr. Richard Besser with ABC News.

"People who are older, people who were born in 1950 or earlier, were exposed to some strains of flu that may give them some protection to this strain that's out there now," Besser explained.

The best way to protect yourself from the flu is to get your flu shot, wash your hands, cover your coughs, and stay home if you're sick.

It's not too late in the flu season to get a flu shot, and the vaccine is still available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the flu shot for everyone over the age of 6 months.

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