High Flu Activity Results in More People Visiting Hospital ERs in Marion County

For Immediate Release
January 10, 2018

(INDIANAPOLIS) – Flu activity and respiratory complaints are high in Marion County and the number of patients seeking treatment in hospital emergency departments is also a growing concern. The percentage of emergency department visits in Marion County related to influenza-like illness (ILI) for Dec. 31-Jan. 6 was 4.42 percent. This is the highest ILI percentage in three years, since the 2014-2015 flu season. In addition, as of January 10 there have been four flu-associated deaths in Marion County this flu season.

To help lessen the demands being put on emergency departments, Marion County Public Health Department Director Virginia A. Caine, M.D., is requesting that anyone experiencing mild flu-like symptoms to first contact a primary care physician or visit an urgent care facility or community health care center. This will allow emergency departments to focus resources on treating patients who are critically ill.

Dr. Caine states that patients who are seen by primary care physicians or at urgent care clinics and community health centers for flu-like illness should be provided symptomatic treatment, regardless of any lab confirmation of flu. Due to limited testing and medication, outpatient antiviral treatment should be reserved for patients at high risk for immune system compromise, or exposure to family members and/or loved ones at higher risk for weakened immune system response.

“It is so important for everyone to take steps to reduce the spread of flu,” said Caine. “This includes getting a flu shot, washing hands frequently, covering all coughs and sneezes, and staying home when feeling sick or experiencing flu-like symptoms.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a flu shot for everyone age 6 months and older. It’s not too late to get the vaccine.

People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea.

For a list of urgent care facilities and community health centers in Marion County, please visit http://marionhealth.org/fluclinics/.

Marion County hospitals recently implemented temporary visitor restrictions to better protect patients, staff and other visitors.

These restrictions include:

  • No visitors with symptoms of influenza.
  • No visitors under the age of 18.
  • Visitors limited to immediate family as identified by the patient.

Marion County hospitals participating in the temporary visitor restrictions include those within Community Health Network; Franciscan Health Indianapolis; St. Vincent; and Indiana University Health, including Riley Hospital for Children; as well Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital and Richard L. Roudebush V.A. Medical Center.   
 
Visitors are encouraged to check a hospital’s website or call in advance about its restrictions and any exceptions.
 

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Media Contact:
Curt Brantingham 
Media/Public Information Coordinator 
317-221-2316 (o) │ 317-525-7450 (c)

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