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Flu Outbreak Forces Santa Clara Hospitals To Decide Who Can Visit Relatives

SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) -- With flu cases spiking in Santa Clara County, hospitals are taking extra steps to keep the virus out by creating tough restrictions for people visiting loved ones in the hospital.

O'Connor Hospital in San Jose already has a stop sign and a guard at the entrance. "We're not allowing any children up on the patient units that are under 16 years of age," it reads.

The girl was turned away, one of many kids who filled the lobby.

With viruses running rampant, children are filling the hospitals' lobbies as they wait for parents to visit relatives upstairs.

"There's a lot of children who are sick right now and there are a lot of other viruses in the community that are affecting primarily children along with the flu," said Suzanne Cistulli, the Director of Infection Prevention and Control with O'Connor Hospital. "(Children) tend to be the population that would bring something in to the hospital so we want to keep that out."

Hospitals all over Santa Clara County are reporting an increase in patients to emergency rooms, many with the flu or flu like symptoms.



"A lot of people coming in complaining of things like chest pain, shortness of breath abdominal pain," said Dr. Ari Kestler with the Regional Medical Center.  "Seeing a slight uptick in the upper respiratory infections as well, especially in children."

Kestler said part of the reason is that this year's flu vaccine is not 100 percent effective against one of the strains now hitting the West Coast.

O'Conner Hospital is encouraging even adult visitors to wear masks while inside the building, even id they've had the vaccine, for the protection of themselves and others.

"It caught me kind of unexpectedly even though I have heard of this second strain," said Adriana York, one hospital visitor. "I have a couple of co-workers who have been out for weeks because of it, so it is pretty intense."

The hospitals will keep the restrictions in place until after the flu season peaks.





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