As flu activity increases and becomes widespread throughout the state, hospitals in central Indiana are implementing restrictions on patient visits.

Dr. Virginia A. Caine, director of the Marion County Public Health Department, has asked hospitals in all major county health systems to limit visitors to the immediate family of patients. Children under 18 and those who have symptoms of influenza can not visit either.

The policy is effective for all hospitals on Monday, January 8, although the facilities of IU Health and Franciscan Health already have established policies.

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Nine people, all but one of them over 50, have died of influenza since the flu season began, according to the report most recent weekly on December 29th of the Indiana State Department of Health.

Thirteen long-term care facilities have seen outbreaks of flu throughout the state.

In Marion County, the percentage of visits to the emergency department with symptoms of flu-like activities has increased three weeks. The week ending December 16 saw 1.8 percent of all emergency department visitors complaining of flu-like symptoms. The following week, that percentage rose to 2.47 and the estimated figures for the week ending December 30 were even higher, 3.56 percent.

Across the state, 2.98 percent of all visits to emergency departments throughout the state were for influenza-like illness. Just over 5 percent of visits to outpatient sentinel providers were for flu symptoms.

Call the IndyStar staff reporter Shari Rudavsky at (317) 444-6354. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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