High Flu Activity in Marion County Results in More Patients Going to Hospital Emergency Rooms
For Immediate Release
March 19, 2019
INDIANAPOLIS – Flu activity and respiratory complaints are extremely high in Marion County and the large number of patients seeking treatment in hospital emergency departments is also a growing concern.
The percentage of emergency department visits to Marion County for influenza-like illness (ILI) during the week of March 10-March 16 was 4.96 percent. This is the highest ILI percentage in March on record. Influenza A/H1N1 emerged earlier in the season, with many providers now seeing a surge in Influenza A/H3N2. This strain typically causes more serious illness especially in the very young and those over age 65 years of age.
Both Influenza A strains are circulating at this time and both are covered by the vaccine, which appears to be more protective than in years past. It is not too late for individuals to get vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a flu shot for everyone age 6 months and older.
As a result of the increased flu activity, emergency departments in Marion County are experiencing high patient volumes resulting in long wait times with rooms filled to capacity.
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 center.
“This will allow emergency departments to focus resources on treating patients who are critically ill,” said Caine.
She also urges everyone to take steps for reducing the spread of flu, which includes getting a flu shot, washing hands frequently, covering all coughs and sneezes, and staying home when feeling sick or experiencing flu-like symptoms.
People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea.
Marion County hospitals implemented temporary visitor restrictions countywide in early January 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.
Visitors are encouraged to check a hospital’s website or call in advance about its restrictions and any exceptions. The restrictions will stay in place until flu activity decreases.
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Media/Public Information Coordinator
317-221-2316 (o) │ 317-525-7450 (c)