Medical Expert: If You’re Sick, Don’t Spread Your Germs to Hospital Patients

UMMC offers tips for preventing the spread of flu and flu-like illnesses.

Germs and viruses love the holidays—as friends and families gather to celebrate, these disease-causing organisms have a field day, hopping gaily from one unsuspecting victim to another.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) has warned that sick people who visit loved ones in the hospital risk spreading the flu virus to a population that’s already susceptible to infection due to their own illnesses.

Thanks to an increased number of diagnosed flu cases reported in clinics and at the emergency departments of UMMC’s adult and children’s hospitals, UMMC has imposed some visitor restrictions during the remainder of flu season. Patients will be allowed no more than two healthy adult visitors at any one time.

“Children can be ill and exhibiting no symptoms but still be contagious,” noted Sheila Fletcher, the medical center’s director of infection prevention.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Mississippi led the nation in activity level for influenza-like illnesses for the week ending Nov. 18. An influenza-like illness is defined as fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher and a cough and/or sore throat.

To prevent the spread of germs, wash your hands properly and cover your mouth while coughing and sneezing. Influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), whooping cough and other serious respiratory illnesses are spread by coughing, sneezing and unclean hands.

“Frequent hand hygiene and controlling coughs and sneezes will help to prevent the transmission of flu and other viruses,” Fletcher said.

The CDC strongly advises people to avoid close contact with people who are sick, to stay home when they are sick, to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth, and to use an alcohol-based hand rub for frequent hand-washing if soap and warm water aren’t available. The agency also advises people to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.

Story courtesy of the University of Mississippi Medical Center Division of Public Affairs