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GRAND RAPIDS (WWJ/AP) - The flu outbreak in the U.S. has reached the point of an epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control is now reporting 47 states now have widespread flu outbreaks.
As of last week, the flu had spread to 47 states.
Michigan health officials confirmed 338 cases at state-run labs. Four Michigan children have died. Angela Minicuci, with the Michigan Department of Community Health, said there are undoubtedly some adult deaths, too, but those don’t have to be reported to the state.
Monday morning, three west Michigan hospitals asked sick people to avoid visiting the facilities to protect patients from the flu.
Saint Mary’s Health Care, Metro Health and Spectrum Health, all in Grand Rapids, also are allowing only two visitors or relatives to visit a patient at one time.
The hospitals made the joint announcement Monday and say the restrictions will remain in place until further notice.
Staff at Spectrum Health will ask visitors if they are healthy. Spokesman Bruce Rossman says those who are not healthy will be “asked to not visit until they are feeling better.”
Minicuci said this flu season is worse than normal and isn’t slowing down yet. She said the hardest-hit regions are the southeast, southwest and central parts of the state.
The only states that aren’t reporting flu outbreaks are California, Mississippi and Hawaii.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness with symptoms that include fever, headache, fatigue, cough, stuffy or runny nose and muscle aches. According to health officials, the best way to prevent the flu is a vaccination. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends a flu shot for anyone over the age of 6 months. (Where to get your flu shot).
For more information about seasonal flu, visit www.michigan.gov/mdch.
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