Flu season puts businesses and employees in a bind (copy)

Kathleen Winkworth administers a flu vaccine at Borgess Health and Fitness Center flu clinic in Michigan.

Medical experts at Aiken Regional Medical Centers are providing important reminders amid this year's flu season.

In an effort to help prevent the spread of influenza virus and other circulating respiratory illnesses, the Aiken hospital has implemented the clinically appropriate infection control precautions to keep not only visitors and patients healthy, but staff members, too.

"In response to the increasing number of influenza cases, Aiken Regional Medical Centers is temporarily restricting hospital visitation of friends and family age 12 and under," according to a news release from ARMC. "The only exception is children under 12 years old are allowed to visit our Labor and Delivery area."

Flu activity in the United States typically peaks between December and March, and the timing of peak activity changes from year to year.

Flu map

Map of influenza cases published by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

In the United States, influenza activity has increased significantly over recent weeks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), South Carolina and Georgia are two states being reported with high levels of flu activity.

In the Palmetto State, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control says the number of flu cases is on the rise, but is not near that catastrophic event or the flu pandemics of 1957, 1968 and 2009, according to an Associated Press report.

A DHEC-published map of influenza cases and influenza case rate/1,000 by county (for week ending Jan. 13) shows a little more than 200 cases in Aiken County.

"The flu is easily spread form person to person through respiratory droplets and contaminated surfaces," said Dr. Gerald Gordon, Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease physician. The most effective way to keep the flu from spreading is to stay at home.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever of 100 degrees or higher
  • Cough and/or sore throat
  • Headache and/or body aches
  • Chill and fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea

"The health and safety of our patients, visitors and staff is taken very seriously at Aiken Regional Medical Centers," Gordon said.

For the convenience of the community, kiosks have been put into place providing education, as well as masks and hand sanitizer for individuals that present with flu-like symptoms.

All visitors are asked to follow these instructions to minimize the risks of transmission of influenza to others when seeking medical treatment.

Aiken Regional Medical Centers encourages everyone to get a flu shot as soon as possible to further protect our community from the spread of the virus, even though the flu shot this year may be less effective against the current H3N2 strain it still protects some people.

If you have flu symptoms and are in a higher risk group because of heart or lung conditions, diabetes, pregnancy, immunosuppression, are older than 65 or are having trouble breathing, you may wish to receive specific treatment for influenza (Tamiflu) from your physician.

Some people have infection with bacteria complicating influenza and may need antibiotics, as well.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Christina Cleveland is a reporter with the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since October 2015. A native of Seneca, South Carolina, she holds a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.