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St. Joseph's Area Health Services limits visits due to seasonal illness

According the Minnesota Department of Health, influenza is wide-spread in the state. To help prevent the spread of influenza-like illness, St. Joseph's Area Health Services is asking members of the public not to visit the hospital if they have symptoms of respiratory illness or if they have been exposed to influenza.

If someone is coming to St. Joseph's because he or she is ill as a result of respiratory illness and/or influenza, they should alert staff at the reception area so they are aware of the condition and take measures to limit exposure to others. A person in this situation will be assigned a private exam room.

St. Joseph's infection prevention and control department began posting signs on hospital entrances on Friday in an effort to keep patients, employees and the public as healthy as possible this flu season.

Limiting patient visits is a standard practice implemented any time influenza is found in the community and serves as a precautionary measure. As an example, it was implemented last flu season when illness was similarly circulating in the community.

St. Joseph's infection control, public and community health personnel are asking the public to be "alert but not alarmed" in regard to this year's viral activity. This flu season has seen substantial coverage by the media with the novel 2009 H1N1 virus making headlines.

Whether it's seasonal or 2009 H1N1 virus, standard tools used in past circumstances are still the best defenses against spreading viral illnesses, which can spread from person to person.

-Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze.

-Wash your hands often with soap and water.

-Get your seasonal and 2009 H1N1 vaccinations this fall.

"You'll need both for full protection," the Minnesota Department of Health Web site indicated Monday.

The seasonal vaccine is available from a person's regular healthcare provider or at public flu shot clinics as they become scheduled. The MDH notes that while a 2009 H1N1 vaccine "is not available yet, it will be arriving soon."

-If you are sick, stay home. It is also recommended that a sick person should avoid contact with others for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone (without the use of fever-reducing medication).

For the latest, updated information on 2009 H1N1, please go to the MDH Web site at

us or the Centers for Disease Control Web site at