A spike in flu cases at Allina Health hospitals has prompted the healthcare firm place restrictions on visitors in Minnesota.
Allina announced on its website that restricted visitor guidelines are now in place "to protect all patients and staff due to influenza."
It affects 12 Allina Health hospitals and medical centers in Minnesota, including its five centers in the Twin Cities metro, as well as inpatient units at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute facilities and River Falls Area Hospital in Wisconsin.
The restrictions mean parents are advised not to bring children under the age of 5 into hospital to visit patients, and visitors who are sick should also stay away.
Those with coughs or sore throats, or children with the same symptoms, are asked to wear a mask in hospital buildings.
Although this flu season has been mild compared to recent years, with the 329 hospitalizations reported so far this season the lowest in five years according to Minnesota Department of Health figures, there has been a recent spike in the number of positive lab tests for influenza.
The health department now considers this year's outbreak of flu to be "widespread" across the state, which is prompting hospitals to tighten their admission guidelines.
Affected Allina hospitals include the following:
- Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Minneapolis.
- Buffalo Hospital.
- Cambridge Medical Center.
- District One Hospital, Faribault.
- Mercy Hospital, Coon Rapids.
- Mercy Hospital – Unity, Fridley.
- New Ulm Medical Center.
- Owatonna Hospital.
- Phillips Eye Institute, Minneapolis.
- Regina Hospital, Hastings.
- River Falls Area Hospital, River Falls, Wisconsin.
- St. Francis Regional Medical Center, Shakopee.
- United Hospital, St. Paul.