Due to an increase in flu cases, Wayne UNC Health Care is implementing visitor restrictions at the hospital starting today.

The restrictions are an effort to reduce exposure to illnesses that are easily spread, including flu and the respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, said Jeremy Cayton, Wayne UNC Health Care manager of marketing and communications. RSV causes infections of the lungs and respiratory tract.

“At Wayne UNC, we carefully monitor flu activity levels in our hospital and the community,” Wayne UNC Health Care said in a news release. “When certain thresholds are met, we implement certain precautions to minimize the spread of illness. One way we do this is by limiting the number of visitors allowed in our patient areas.”

Visitors age 12 and younger are prohibited from visiting the hospital, including any patient rooms, the emergency department, surgery center, registration areas and waiting rooms. Anyone with symptoms that include a fever, runny nose, nasal drainage or sore throat is asked not to visit the hospital unless they are receiving medical care.

“During this flu season, Wayne UNC Health Care has seen 222 positive flu cases,” said Chanda Newsome, hospital director of infection control. “We’ve put these temporary precautions in place to maintain a healing environment for our patients, protecting them against exposure to the flu.

“Children, the elderly and those that have an impaired immune system are at an increased risk for getting ill from the flu. The flu can spread from person to person before you become ill and can spread for up to seven days after becoming ill.”

As an alternative, parents can encourage children to write letters to a loved one or stay connected through Skype and FaceTime, officials said.

The Wayne UNC team recommends that all individuals over the age of 6 months receive an annual flu shot and practice proper respiratory and hand hygiene. Frequent hand washing is considered the most effective way to stop the spread of germs.

Respiratory hygiene includes covering a cough and wearing a mask to control respiratory secretions.