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Swine Flu in North Idaho-Loss of a Local

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Swine Flu in North Idaho-Loss of a Local

Three people, three stories. In the third, a bout with swine flu leads to death for Sandpoint resident Jody Matz

Jody Matz was your typical, fun-loving 30-year-old young lady when she developed body aches and a bad headache on Saturday, October 17. She went to Bonner General Hospital Immediate Care and was put on intensive ibuprofen. On Tuesday, with fever, congestion and ear aches, she returned and was diagnosed as having contracted influenza A, the predominant strain of which is the H1N1 referred to as swine flu. She began taking a pain reliever, Tamiflu and an antibiotic.

On Thursday Jody’s parents, concerned that she wasn’t answering the phone, entered her apartment and found her mostly non-responsive. They called for an ambulance, and Jody was heart-flighted to Holy Family Hospital, where she died on Friday afternoon, with a massive pneumatic infection of the lungs. “Jody has gone to join Granddad in heaven,” wrote her heartbroken mother. “They are playing, riding horses, laughing and waiting for all of us to come.”

Although it’s early in the course of this pandemic, there are certain things we think we know about swine flu: one of them is that for young adults, it can be a deadly infection. Forty-one percent of the deaths that have occurred have been in young adults in Jody’s age group—24 to 49. Jody did not have any of the known risk factors that should have made swine flu deadly, but her mother believes that being a smoker didn’t help.

At this writing, Jody’s death is not, and will not be, officially attributed to swine flu. Because she died at a hospital that did not test for H1N1, and because that testing is only a recommendation, not a requirement, in Washington state, Jody will be among the uncounted numbers who die in this pandemic.

In a normal year, it’s incredibly rare for a person Jody’s age to die from flu; it is primarily a serious infection for the very old and the very young. Yet the H1N1 swine flu going around now has been most deadly for those in the prime of life: 41 percent of deaths occur in young adults aged 24 to 49 and, just a few weeks after the second wave of swine flu began passing through the U.S., we’ve seen 114 deaths in kids under the age of 18. By contrast, in the last flu season as a whole there were just 65 pediatric deaths from the flu.

Jody is a reminder to all of us to take this year’s flu season seriously, as it can have deadly consequences for a precious part of our population: our children. There are certain pre-existing conditions that make children and young adults more likely to experience complications from swine flu but disturbingly, 30 percent of deaths occur in those with no identified pre-existing conditions at all. If your child develops flu symptoms, monitor them closely; a frightening number of deaths have been marked by rapid deterioration. Keep them well hydrated, and watch for any problems in breathing, changes in skin tone, rash with fever or inability to respond. And be sure to contact a medical professional with any questions you might have regarding diagnosis or treatment.

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Landon Otis

Tagged as:

health, H1N1, swine flu, Jody Matz

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