Flu deaths prompt hospital restrictions in Marion County

11 flu-related deaths reported in Ind. this season

INDIANAPOLIS - Visitation will be restricted at Indianapolis-area hospitals following Marion County's first flu-related death this season, health officials announced Friday.

The Marion County Public Health Department said the policy will go into effect Jan. 20 at Riley Hospital for Children and Eskenazi Health, and it will go into effect on Jan. 22 for all local hospitals.

The restrictions limit visitors to patients' families and significant others, and special arrangements will be needed for any visitor under the age of 18.

Anyone with flu-like symptoms – including fever and cough -- will not be allowed to visit.

The restrictions will be in place until health officials decide they're no longer needed based on flu data in the county.

In addition to the one flu death reported in Marion County, there have been 10 other flu-related fatalities in Indiana this flu season, health officials said.

St. Joseph County has had six flu-related deaths, and four other unspecified counties have had one death each.

Specific information about the victims has not been released, but officials said all but one of the 11 victims was between the ages of 25 and 64, which is a change from the trend during last year's flu season.

"Although not typically considered to be a high risk group, young and middle-aged adults have been hit fairly hard this flu season,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess. "Flu season can last until April, so I want to stress that it isn't too late to get vaccinated."

Health officials say H1N1 seems to be the predominant strain in the current flu season.

"We are starting to see people be a lot sicker now when they are contracting the flu and having to be hospitalized," Dr. Emily McIssac with Eskenazi Health said. "The biggest thing I can tell patients at this point is to make sure you're washing your hands. If you haven't yet received the flu shot, try and get the flu shot and avoid contact with people with flu-like symptoms if they can."    

Resources: Indiana State Department of Health | Marion County Health Department

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