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MILWAUKEE, WI — It’s once again flu season in Wisconsin and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin is temporarily banning children younger than 12 years old from visiting patients in two hospitals.

According to a news release from Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, the ban goes into effect starting Wednesday, Dec. 18 at their Milwaukee and Neenah hospital.

The ban will be in place until hospital officials say otherwise. This policy does not include clinic appointments or Emergency Department visits, officials said.

This restriction only applies to visitors. Families with children under the age of 12 years may still seek medical attention in one of their clinics, Urgent Care locations or Emergency Department.

“To help prevent the spread of the influenza virus and other viral illnesses, and to protect the health of our patients, families and staff, Children’s Wisconsin is implementing an annual temporary visitor restriction at both our Milwaukee and Fox Valley hospitals as well as the Surgicenter,” Mike Gutzeit, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Children’s Wisconsin said in a statement.

Flu Season Off To “Unusual” Start

The flu season is off to an “unusual” start and government health officials say it has already been blamed for over a thousand deaths, including 10 children — though not recently in Wisconsin as of early December. There’s a high chance activity will peak in late December though the worst could come anytime between the end of the year and February, according to flu season forecasts.

So far, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says most illnesses are the result of the influenza B/Victoria viruses, which the agency said is unusual for this time of the year. The next most common virus in circulation is the A/H1N1 and it’s increasing in proportion relative to other viruses in some regions.

The latest data from the agency — current as of the week ending Dec. 6 — shows that the virus is widespread in 23 states, though most of Wisconsin is still reporting influenza levels at normal regional levels.

The geographic spread of flu activity does not measure the severity of the virus.

The CDC’s influenza-like-illness (ILI) surveillance measures the level of flu activity within a state. According to the latest data, nine states, including Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia had low activity.

According to the CDC, symptoms of the flu include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills (though not everyone with flu will have a fever)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

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