Onancock, Va – Influenza (flu) is currently considered to be ‘widespread’ throughout Virginia, meaning that at least half of the regions in the state have had laboratory-confirmed flu diagnoses, according to the Virginia Department of Health.  Flu has caused hundreds of deaths in the nation so far this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


To protect the health of visiting children and already-vulnerable patients, Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital temporarily will not allow visitors ages twelve and younger until the threat of transmitting influenza has decreased.


The flu is easily transmitted through droplets in the air that then come in contact with mucus membranes.  “One typical example is that an infected person sneezes or coughs into their hand, and then that hand touches a door handle, phone, or other communal property,” said Shelia Corbin, Infection Control Director at Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital.  “Because the flu virus can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours, the next few people to touch that item are at risk of contracting the virus, especially if they then touch their mouth, nose or food without first washing off the virus.”


Keeping hands clean with frequent handwashing in warm water is the most effective method to stop the spread of the virus.  Antibacterial hand sanitizer works too if handwashing is not available.


Riverside Shore Memorial’s seasonal visitation change applies only to visitors, not to those seeking medical care.  Patients seeking care are always welcome, regardless of age.


Any hospital visitor of any age who is experiencing symptoms of illness is strongly encouraged to postpone their visit until they feel well.  Anyone experiencing symptoms of flu should call their primary care provider for an appointment.  In some cases, providers can alleviate the symptoms and reduce the duration of symptoms.


Riverside primary care providers are available in Parksley (665-5996), Nassawadox (442-6600) and Cape Charles (331-1422).


Kool Ford