A severe outbreak of the flu has prompted Anne Arundel Medical Center to bar young children from visiting the hospital.
The Annapolis hospital is temporarily restricting all children younger than 12 fromvisiting patients. The ban includes the hospital's sibling visitation program.
"We're trying to prevent the flu from spreading among patients here," said hospital spokeswoman Carolyn Tonty, who pointed out that young children are "major carriers of the flu."
North Arundel Hospital isn't limiting visitors yet, said spokesman Kevin Murnane. He saidit still is crowded with people suffering from upper respiratory andintestinal viruses.
Both county hospitals have been swamped in recent weeks with patients complaining of flu-like symptoms. Although only a few cases have been officially confirmed, county physicians andpublic health officials reported an outbreak of upper respiratory and stomach ailments. A number of people have come down with strep throat in the past week as well.
"I think we're seeing the tail end ofthe respiratory flu," Murnane said. "Now we have gone full-blown into the intestinal flu. We're seeing about 12 patients a day with that."
Physicians are urging flu sufferers to drink lots of fluids and avoid heavy protein foods, which often cause vomiting. Many patients have come into the emergency rooms recently dehydrated from high temperatures and vomiting.