By Lauren DiSpirito

LOVELAND, Colo. (CBS4) – Banner Health officials have extended visitor restrictions at its Greeley, Loveland and Fort Collins medical centers, following a late peak in influenza.

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Typical seasonal restrictions aimed at protecting patients and visitors from the flu run from Dec. 1 through March 31. This season, the hospital system has decided to extend its restriction period through April 30.

“Our flu season is peaking later than normal this year,” said Janet Conner, director of infection prevention for Banner Health’s Western Division. “We are extending our visitor restrictions to keep our patients, staff, and visitors as safe as possible.”

CBS4's Lauren DiSpirito interviews flu victim Brenda Bupp (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Lauren DiSpirito interviews flu victim Brenda Bupp (credit: CBS)

According to Conner, flu season typically peaks in January or February. This year, Banner Health saw the highest rate of influenza cases in March. Conner says while there is no clear reason why infections seem to be occurring later this flu season, it’s a trend that doctors across the country are seeing.

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To prevent the flu from spreading, Banner Health is asking all visitors to their facilities follow these instructions:

  • Do not visit patients inside the hospital if you have fever, cough, vomiting or diarrhea
  • No visitors under the age of 13
  • While at the hospital, wash or sanitize your hands frequently

Banner Health says siblings who do not have cold and flu symptoms may still visit the obstetrics unit, but those under the age of 12 must be supervised in waiting areas and cafeterias.

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Since the beginning of the flu season, Banner Health has diagnosed 134 influenza cases at North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley, 48 cases at McKee Medical Center in Loveland, and 18 cases at its newest facility, in Fort Collins. The vaccine is still available, and turned out to be more effective than last year’s version, Conner said.

“Please do get your flu vaccine if you haven’t gotten it this year, it is not too late to be beneficial.”

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Lauren DiSpirito is CBS4’s Northern Newsroom reporter. Follow her on Twitter @CBS4Lauren. Share your story ideas with her here.