Flu Patients Flood Danbury Hospital

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DANBURY, Conn. - Staff members at Danbury Hospital have been picking up extra shifts to keep up with the influx of patients suffering from the flu.

This year's flu season has filled emergency rooms across the country, and now, officials are urging people to stay home unless they are dangerously ill.

"We have a lot of sick people here and we don't want them to catch anything or you to catch anything," said Laurie Bretlinger, director of infection control.

Healthy people with routine flu symptoms should consult their primary care physician and take care of themselves at home if possible, Bretlinger said.

Anyone with a pre-existing condition or who experiences difficultly breathing, bluish skin, chest pressure, confusion or dizziness should seek medical attention immediately, she said.

More than 90 percent of the hospital's staff received the flu vaccine, a crucial factor in ensuring the hospital can keep up with the increased number of patients, she said.

Although many people have already battled the flu this season, Bretlinger said, the end of this outbreak may still be far away.

For people who have avoided the flu so far, the key to staying flu-free is washing hands several times a day. The flu virus can be caught anywhere, including  handrails, gas pumps and door handles, and not just from people coughing or sneezing, Bretlinger said.

The hospital has not imposed any visitor restrictions yet, but officials are asking people to stay away if they are sick.

"It's important to see your loved ones, but it's also important those people aren't exposed to illnesses circulating throughout the community," Bretlinger said.

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