Blessing blocks visitors under age 12 following holiday weekend outbreak

Blessing Hospital has restricted children under the age of 12 from visiting patients until further notice.

The restriction is effective September 2 due to the outbreak of a respiratory virus among children in the region, according to a press release issued by Steve Felde with Blessing Hospital.

According to Felde, the outbreak hit hard over the holiday weekend and more than 70 children presenting to the Blessing Emergency Center showed breathing difficulties; seven of which were admitted for treatment of the as-yet-unidentified virus.

Robert Merrick, MD, an epidemiologist with Blessing Hospital, said it could be the same virus that hit St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri last week.

That outbreak, according to the press release, was caused by HEV68, a respiratory infection that affects mainly children.

"We are restricting children under age 12 from visiting Blessing Hospital patients until further notice to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the virus for all involved, the children who would be visiting and our patients," Dr. Merrick said.

Parents and guardians should not bring children under 12 to the hospital until further notice.

Felde says Blessing staff will continue to assess the situation daily and they will make an announcement when the restriction is lifted.