It’s officially here. We’re talking the flu.

Visitor restrictions are now in place at Elkhart General Hospital because of a high rate of flu and respiratory illnesses going around Elkhart County.

No visitors 18 years of age or under will be allowed at Elkhart General Hospital until further notice. The hospital-wide visitor restrictions went into effect at noon today (Wednesday).

RSV is the predominant circulating virus in Elkhart County; however, influenza activity is up and currently ranks second, according to the Elkhart County Health Officer.

Not that we want to be the bearers of bad news, but flu activity does not appear to have peaked yet this winter.

“It’s really, really bad, and we’re only three weeks into it,” said Dr. Justin Grannell, Beacon Medical Group family practitioner in Bristol. Typically, once the flu hits a community, it sticks around for a good solid month to six weeks.

“Stay out of the grocery stores and keep your kids at home even if they only have a low-grade temperature. They’re still contagious and they’re spreading the flu to other people,” Grannell said. “In the weeks ahead, with how much we’re seeing it here, if you start having a fever, get in to see your doctor.

“And you can still get a flu shot.”

At this time, Memorial Hospital of South Bend is not implementing restrictions. But Memorial discourages anyone of any age who is sick to avoid being in the hospital.

All Beacon associates are encouraged to prevent the spread of these illnesses by following these recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  1. Contain your illness by staying home if you are sick.
  2. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and place your used tissue in the waste basket. Or cough or sneeze in your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
  3. Clean your hands often. Wash with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.