PAH implements visitor restrictions due to flu

PUNXSUTAWNEY — In response to the widespread outbreak and severity of this year’s seasonal flu, Punxsutawney Area Hospital (PAH) has implemented restrictions on visitors to all clinical areas of the hospital, effective immediately.

“We are asking that visitors be free of a fever for at least 24 hours prior to visiting a patient, and that visitors who have respiratory issues or who are under the age of 18 not come to the hospital at all,” said PAH Infection Preventionist and Specialist Abby Kengersky. “If you are visiting, we ask that you wash your hands frequently and
use the liquid hand gel sanitizer dispensers located throughout the hospital.”

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infects the nose, throat and lungs.

It can cause mild to severe illness and, at times, can lead to death.

Complications can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a yearly flu vaccine and
by the use of proper hand hygiene.

Signs and symptoms of the flu include:
• Fever and/or chills
• Cough
• Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Muscle or body aches
• Headaches
• Fatigue
• Vomiting and diarrhea, which is more common in children than adults.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 47 states have
reported widespread flu activity, and more than 3,700 people have been hospitalized nationwide for the flu since October.

Most of the hospitalizations have been in people older than 65.

Influenza cases have now been reported in all Pennsylvania counties, and there have been 22 reported deaths in Pennsylvania.

PAH has confirmed more than 80 positive lab tests for the flu since
December 15.

To stay healthy and help avoid contracting this flu, the CDC advises the following:

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze; then
throw the tissue in the trash.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water (20-25 seconds).

Alcohol-based cleaners are also effective.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.

• Stay home if you get sick.

Stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

For more information on this year’s seasonal flu, please visit the CDC’s website at: