Posted: Jan 4, 2013 10:49 PM by Q2 News
Updated: Jan 5, 2013 5:48 AM
BILLINGS - An aggressive flu season is underway across most of the nation, with 29 states now reporting record-high levels of influenza.
That's the story here in Montana.
Beginning today, Billings Clinic and St. Vincent implemented "visitor restrictions."
Already, as many as 450 people in Yellowstone County are diagnosed with Influenza and those are just reported cases.
Those 450 confirmed cases of influenza is a big jump from the usual 120 cases during this time in years past.
So if you're feeling under the weather or you're younger than 18, you won't be able to visit someone you know in the hospital.
These restrictions apply to people younger than 18 as well as anyone experiencing cold, influenza, or other respiratory illnesses.
As more cases are reported, restrictions will continue.
This is part of a community effort to prevent and control the spread to young children, the elderly and pregnant women.
John Felton, Yellowstone County Health Officer, said it is a move to help, not to inconvenience.
"When that happens, we make the decision it's time to restrict visitation. You hate to restrict visitation and limit people from seeing loved ones but ultimately, our most important thing is to protect the life, health and safety of the people in our community. And at times, you just need to do this."
Yellow colored signs displaying the restrictions will go up next week at the entrances of hospitals.
Officials are unsure how long the restriction will remain in effect but will re-evaluate on a week-to-week basis.