(Global News): The parents of a 21-year-old man who died of flu complications are warning others about the risks of ignoring the symptoms of influenza.
Kyler Baughman, a healthy aspiring personal trainer of Pennsylvania, died just days after Christmas following a flu diagnosis.
“We saw him the 23rd for our family Christmas get-together and we noticed he wasn’t feeling well,” his mother told WPXI. “He looked rundown and had a bit of a snotty nose.”
Baughman’s mother told the news site his organs eventually failed due to septic shock caused by the flu.
After the holidays, Baughman returned to work (he sold furniture and worked at a local Walmart), but came home early because he wasn’t feeling well.
“He kinda just laid down and went about his day and that was the day he was coughing and said his chest hurt, he had a mild cough,” his fiancée Olivia Marcanio told the news station.
As days passed, things got worse and on Dec. 27, he was taken to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh where he died the next day.
“I just think he ignored it and thought it’d go away like most people, and I think people need to pay more attention to their bodies,” his mother continued.
Influenza cases in Canada
According to Health Canada, to date this season, there have been 1,050 influenza-associated hospitalizations reported and 34 deaths. All deaths are in the age group of adults 65 years or older.
For children under 16, there have been a total of 195 pediatric hospitalizations for the flu and fewer than five reported deaths.
“The number of hospitalizations reported this season have been greater than the 2016-17 season, but below the 2014-15 and 2012-13 seasons,” Health Canada notes.
And with this flu season in particular, some experts say the flu shot might be only 10 per cent effective against the most predominant strain.
Dr. Isaac Bogoch, staff physician and assistant professor at the department of medicine at University of Toronto, says Baughman’s case is extremely sad, but not unheard of.
“What groups are most at risk? Elderly people. But that does not mean that people who do not have risk factors do not have bad outcomes. We certainly do see that. It is less common but not impossible.”
Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist Victor Wong of Toronto says health experts are seeing more cases of influenza, and Canadians should keep in mind the flu can be deadly.
“The danger still exists for all Canadians, not just seniors and the very young,” he tells Global News.
In Baughman’s case, his parents note he didn’t seek help right away and wasn’t vaccinated, and Wong says this can be life-threatening. Often people think they can “tough it out,” or they ignore the symptoms and continue to work, he says.
“It’s also important to be able to identify what the main flu symptoms are and how it is different from an actual cold.”
With a cold, most people generally deal with a runny nose, coughing and sneezing, symptoms that generally make them weak and unproductive. He adds the flu, on the other hand, can lead to a high fever for three to five days, body aches, chills, throbbing headaches and general fatigue.
“If an individual has these symptoms, go see a doctor or maybe even go to the ER,” Wong says. “People can actually die from the flu.”
Influenza can also lead to secondary infections, he adds, which can include other conditions like pneumonia.
“[Ignoring your symptoms] is dangerous for yourself and the rest of the population who are at risk.”