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Flu concerns leading to Indianapolis hospital visitation restrictions

Rules go into effect Friday
Flu season.PNG
Posted at 5:37 PM, Dec 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-18 17:41:31-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Due to an increase in flu activity, new restrictions are being placed on patient visits at all Indianapolis hospitals.

The rules were announced late-Wednesday by the Marion County Health Department and go into effect on Friday.

Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine says the restrictions are designed to protect patients and staff at hospitals during times of increased influenza activity.

These temporary restrictions include, but are not limited to:

  • 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 healthcare facility’s website or call in advance about its restrictions and any exceptions.

During the most recent weeks for which figures are available, just over three percent of all Marion County hospital visits were flu-related. That's high enough to put visitor restrictions in effect.

According to the health department, influenza is a respiratory illness that can cause fever, cough, sore throat, body aches and fatigue. Severe complications of influenza infection include pneumonia which can lead to hospitalization and death.

“The most effective way to protect against the flu is to get a dose of seasonal flu vaccine – it’s not too late,” said Dr. Caine. "“Other recommendations to lower the risk of spreading flu include covering your cough and washing hands frequently and thoroughly.”

People who suspect they are infected with influenza should stay home from work or school and seek evaluation by a medical provider, said Dr. Caine.

People with the highest risk for experiencing complications of influenza include:

  • Children less than two years old and adults older than 65.
  • People with a weakened immune system.
  • Individuals with chronic pulmonary, cardiovascular, renal, hepatic, hematological, and metabolic disorders.
  • People who are obese.
  • Women who are pregnant or during the first two weeks after giving birth.