Posted at: 01/07/2013 5:29 PM
By: James Wilcox
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says influenza is spreading at an alarming rate across the country. Now hospitals and clinics in Minnesota are taking action by not allowing visitors.
The CDC says, nationwide, 18 children have died from the flu in recent weeks and the number of cases is up 25% from just two weeks ago. The numbers are expected to continue rising.
The Sleepy Eye Medical Center in Southwest Minnesota is restricting visitors from the building until further notice. The same goes from Madelia Community Hospital and Clinic.
Health experts say hospitals and clinics and easily become breeding grounds for the infection to spread.
"Each patient can only have two visitors at any one time and we are asking for immediate family only. And of course if you're sick, you shouldn't visit anyone at the hospital," says Dr. Joan Krikava of New Ulm Medical Center.
Kari Etrheim of the Olmsted County Public Health Departments says, "The department of health has seen a large number of flu cases all throughout the state and that's no different in Olmsted County where we are seeing increased numbers of hospitalizations and people checking themselves into emergency rooms, as well."
The number of flu-related deaths in Minnesota stands at four. 600 additional people have been hospitalized.
Typical flu seasons don't begin until this time of year, after the holidays. This year the season started in October and is already at levels normally not seen until Spring.