UF Health Shands implements restrictions to prevent spread of flu

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Doctors at UF Health Shands are seeing more cases of the flu than usual, along with the rest of the country. Hospital administration is implementing restrictions to stop the flu from spreading.

"At this point in january, we've have over 400 positive cases of flu that we have seen here at UF Health," said Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Nicole Iovine. "If you look to the left and look to the right the people around you, one of them could be incubating flu right now and feel fine and could be transmitting it. So that's the reason why we want to limit the number of visitors coming into the hospital."

Patients will only be able to have a number of designated visitors. No children can visit patients, and visitors will be encouraged to wear masks.

"You can be infectious in other words you can transmit influenza infection a full 24 hours before you have symptoms," said Dr. Iovine.

The hospital is doing this to prevent further spread of the epidemic affecting 32 states and leading to more deaths this season than doctors have seen in years. In the state of Florida, three counties are dealing with elevated numbers of flu cases, one of them is Bradford.

Doctors said it's not too late to get a flu shot. "If you haven't been vaccinated for flu but you got the flu, you should still get vaccinated. Because depending on which vaccine you get, there's about 3-4 strains in it. so if you just get one, you're still at risk for one of the other ones."

The changes are expected to be in place for the next two to four weeks depending on when the hospital sees normal rates of the flu.