Michiana hospitals flooded with flu patients

Elkhart, Ind. Hospitals across Michiana say they've seen a drastic increase in the number of flu cases since Christmas.

On Friday, Elkhart General Hospital had more than 30 people hospitalized with the flu, many of them critically ill.

"Our volumes are up 25 or 30 percent," said Dr. David Van Ryn. "The hospital's just implemented a visitors restriction to try to prevent spreading more illness. So, yeah, it's a big deal."

Van Ryn says the CDC and State Board of Health believes this is another case of H1N1 quickly spreading. Younger people are especially at-risk for the strain.

"Several of the people who are upstairs who are critically ill are young, otherwise healthy people," Van Ryn said. "So, it's a big problem."

Van Ryn is urging people who haven't already been vaccinated this year to get a flu shot. While it won't protect people from catching the virus completely, it drastically reduces a person's chance of catching the flu.

"It's the only way we have to prevent this disease. So there's no reason not to get it," he said.

The St. Joseph County Health Department says the flu could be to blame for as many as four deaths since Christmas Eve. The victims range in age from 25 to 39.

Flu season is expected to continue for at least two more weeks. Health experts say it's not too late to get a shot.

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