Indianapolis hospitals limit visitors because of flu outbreak

Visitors won't be allowed in if they have symptoms

INDIANAPOLIS - Hospitals in Marion County will begin taking additional precautions on Friday in an effort to stem the spread of the flu.

All hospitals in the county will turn away visitors who have flu-like symptoms, including coughing, sneezing and body aches.

No visitors under the age of 18 will be admitted without making special arrangements beforehand.

Visitors also will not be allowed unless they are an immediate family member or partner.

New rules will be posted at hospital entryways, and people will ask visitors how they are feeling before allowing them inside the hospital. The same restrictions were put in place in 2009, during the H1N1 outbreak.

Officials said there have been two flu-related deaths in Marion County this flu season, both of them adults.

Hospital emergency rooms are seeing large increases in people coming for treatment of flu-like symptoms.

"The hospitals reported 403 of these visits for the week, compared to 226 visits the previous week," said Dr. Virginia Caine, of the Marion County Health Department. "This is nearly about a 57 percent increase in one week, and it represents 3.9 percent of all emergency department visits."
 
Officials said the visitor policies they put in place will last at least through the end of January, when they will be revisited and extended, if needed.

Flu cases seem to have hit a plateau and are declining in many states, but officials think the peak has not hit Indiana yet.

"Nationally, is does look like the peak has been reached for a number of states," Caine said. "But since this past week, we actually almost doubled from last week. We're still on the rise."

The Indiana State Department of Health said there have been 27 deaths in Indiana, 17 of those reported in the last week.

Twenty of those people had other medical conditions, such as heart disease, and nine of them had received a flu shot. Two of those who died were children.

The Marion County Health Department is planning a free flu shot clinic at all its offices on Friday from 1 to 5 p.m.

Watch RTV6 and refresh this page for updates.

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