Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 7, 2013

Flu cases on the rise in Mercer County, visitation to hospitals, nursing homes limited

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — Health officials are asking those exhibiting flu-like symptoms to stay away from local hospitals and long-term care facilities to prevent the further spread of the disease to high-risk patients.

Judy Bolton, RN, a public health nurse with the Mercer County Health Department, said the number of flu cases in Mercer County is still on the increase.

“The numbers are still going up,” Bolton said. “The numbers we get are just a sampling of the hospitals and doctor’s offices that report to us, so it could be higher, but we have about 457 cases reported to us this week, which is up 100 from last week.”

Bolton said local long-term care facilities are also reporting flu outbreaks.

“We have seen a few flu outbreaks in some of the area’s long-term care facilities,” Bolton said. “We are asking people who are showing symptoms to not visit the hospital, nursing homes or long-term care facilities because you are endangering the lives of the people there.”

Rick Hypes, a spokesperson with Princeton Community Hospital, said the hospital has asked people to refrain from visiting patients or the hospital’s emergency room except in dire cases due to the widespread outbreak. Hypes said the hospital has seen 210 cases of flu-like symptoms, 40 confirmed cases of flu, 25 cases of  respiratory syncytial virus or RSV in children and has four patients currently hospitalized for severe flu and respiratory symptoms.