Raleigh, N.C. — Duke University Health System says it is restricting patient visits at its hospitals and facilities as a result of a sharp rise of influenza infections in the Triangle.
Effective Wednesday afternoon, visits at the system's three hospitals and two ambulatory surgical centers will be limited to immediate family and designated caregivers over age 18 who have no fever, cough or flu-like symptoms.
In addition, patients will be allowed to receive no more than two visitors at a time.
"The restrictions are part of a multi-step approach to protect patients and prevent the spread of influenza at Duke University Hospital, Durham Regional and Duke Raleigh hospitals, as well as the Duke Ambulatory Surgical Center and the James E. Davis Ambulatory Surgical Center," according to a statement released Wednesday.
It goes on to urge visitors with flu-like symptoms to stay at home and for those who do visit to wash their hands frequently while in the building, including when they enter and leave.
Restrictions are temporary and will be reviewed as the state’s flu outbreak diminishes, the health system said.
Duke is the latest hospital across the state to restrict visits since flu activity has reached the highest level in the past decade.
Flu outbreaks are being reported in schools and long-term care facilities statewide. Officials say the flu is especially dangerous for pregnant women, people with chronic diseases, very young children and the elderly.
Since October, 12 people have died from the flu. Nine of the 12 people who died were older than 64. The other three were between 24 and 64 years old.
State Health Director Laura Gerald said last week that it's unusual to see so many deaths this early in the season.
She strongly encourages anyone over six months old to get a flu vaccination. It takes about two weeks for people to develop immunity after getting the vaccination.