Local hospitals announce visitor rules as flu kills 11 in Wisconsin

NORTHEAST WISCONSIN (WBAY) - Local hospitals are announcing visitor restrictions as the flu season turns deadly in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says 11 people have died of flu complications this season.

There have been 459 flu-related hospitalizations the season--that's more than three times as many as last year at this time.

“These hospitalizations and deaths are a sober reminder that flu is not only dangerous; it can be deadly,” said State Health Officer Jeanne Ayers. “That’s why we urge all Wisconsinites to get flu shots, not only to protect themselves, but also everyone around them from serious illness. If you have yet to get your flu shot, it is not too late.”

HSHS-Eastern Wisconsin Division hospitals are taking steps to help stop the spread of the flu. They've announced these visitor restrictions:

--No visitors under the age of 12 will be allowed in inpatient areas.

--No visitors with flu-like symptoms (fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose, fever, vomiting, diarrhea) will be allowed.

--The hospitals are limiting the number of healthy visitors per patient to one or two.

The rules are for visits to these hospitals: HSHS St. Vincent Hospital, HSHS St. Vincent Children’s Hospital and HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital Medical Center in Green Bay; HSHS St. Nicholas Hospital in Sheboygan; and HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital in Oconto Falls.

"At St. Vincent we've seen 30 of flu, so far flu so far this season. Of those 30, 15 were children resulting in five hospitalizations, one of which was a child," said Ken Nelson, Chief Nursing Officer at HSHS St. Vincent and HSHS St. Mary's.

That's a big increase compared to last year, when the hospital, at this time reported just 13 cases of the flu.

Health officials also say t's up to each person to help with prevention.

Nelson added, "It's not too late to get a flu shot. So we would recommend anyone who hasn't been immunized yet from the flu would still do that. Washing hands is really the best way to prevent the spread of flu, and also if you are having signs or symptoms of the flu, stay home."

Children's Wisconsin will not allow visitors under the age of 12 at the Milwaukee hospital, Fox Valley hospital, and the Surgicenter for the remainder of flu season.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists Wisconsin in the "high" category when it comes to flu. CLICK HERE for the nationwide flu outbreak map.