Marion County health officials ask public with mild flu symptoms to avoid hospital ERs


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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Marion County Public Health Department (MCHD) is asking people with mild flu symptoms not to visit emergency rooms to help mitigate the overwhelming of hospital resources.

MCHD said flu activity is reaching high levels across Marion County, and the number of patients seeking treatment for flu-like symptoms in hospital emergency departments has become a growing concern.

According to MCHD, during the week of December 22nd through the 28th, the percentage of ER visits with the main complaint of a flu-like illness reached a 10-year high in Marion County.

MCHD director Virginia A. Caine, M.D. is asking that those experiencing mild flu-like symptoms to seek treatment through a primary care provider, community health center or urgent care center to help ease the demand on hospital emergency departments.

In a statement, MCHD said the following:

“Anyone experiencing severe flu-like symptoms, including high fever, difficulty breathing, confusion, severe weakness or unsteadiness with an inability to walk, seizures, and persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, should still seek medical treatment immediately at a hospital emergency department.

Patients who are seen at urgent care clinics for flu-like illness should receive antiviral treatment, even before any lab confirmation of flu. When used for treatment, antiviral medication can lessen symptoms and shorten the time a person is sick by 1-2 days.

Individuals most affected by flu in Marion County are in the 0-4 age group, with significant activity in the 5-17 age group.”

“Flu season typically runs through April, so it’s important for everyone to get a flu shot.” Caine added. “The vaccine is the most effective way to prevent influenza. It can also shorten the length and the severity of illness for those who become infected with the virus.”

Other ways to reduce the spread of flu include:

  • Washing hands frequently
  • Covering all coughs and sneezes
  • Staying home when feeling sick or experiencing flu-like symptoms
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces at home that are touched often, using a general household cleaner and following label directions

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a flu shot for everyone age 6 months and older.

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

All hospitals in Marion County recently implemented temporary visitor restrictions to better protect patients, staff and other visitors from the flu.

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