As of mid-January, The Centers for Disease Control reported that the most devastating flu season in years is upon us.
Emergency Room doctors everywhere are overwhelmed with patients reporting severe symptoms from the dominant H3N2 strain that is resulting in thousands of hospitalizations, and even death.
According to the CDC’s weekly flu report released on January 13, 2018, 14,401 new cases were confirmed, bringing the season total of laboratory-confirmed cases to a whopping 74,562. Ten children also reportedly died in the week of the 13th, bringing the season’s death toll to thirty.
Head of CDC’s Domestic Flu Surveillance team, Lynnette Brammer warns that “the elderly, children under 2, pregnant women, and people with chronic health problems” are at the highest risk of developing complications from influenza.
But a grieving Orange County mom is sending a new message to America after her perfectly healthy 27-year-old died of the flu: Nobody is immune.
“You never believe it would happen. And the flu, pneumonia—I mean it’s just unimaginable,” Liz Gallagher told CBS2/KCAL9 after her daughter Katharine passed away last month.
Katharine, a Boston University grad, was living with her boyfriend in Tustin when she came down with what she thought was a harmless stomach bug. Though she was experiencing chills, fever, stomach pain and a persisting cough, the 27-year-old was certain she could kick the flu with a little rest.
After all, she was in perfect health and had what she thought was a pretty resilient immune system.
When the symptoms didn’t relent after day three, Liz took her daughter to urgent care to get her checked out. Two days later, she also tried taking Katharine to the ER, but she refused, certain that she would heal on her own.
“If I get some sleep, I’ll be fine,” insisted Katharine.
By day 5, her concerned mother was texting her every hour to check in.
“At 3:20 she texted me that ‘ahh I’m finally laying down,’” said Liz. “And I just texted back ‘get some sleep and text me when you wake up.’”
But that was the last text Liz would ever receive from her daughter…
Her boyfriend found her lifeless body laying on the bathroom floor when he returned from work. Katharine had passed away just one hour after sending that final message to her mom.
“It’s the beginning of the worst nightmare that we’re not gonna wake up from,” says Liz, still shaken by the devastating loss.
But amidst her unspeakable grief, she still has one ray of hope that keeps her going. If Liz can save just one life by spreading Katharine’s story, she knows her precious daughter’s death will not have been in vain.
“If young people hear this, they will realize that this is not to be trifled with,” she says. “And that they’re not invincible. Whatever it is that’s going around is really dangerous. If there is even one person who goes and gets checked and doesn’t end up dying in a few days, then it will be worth it.”
Liz wants to be very clear that her daughter had a difficult time breathing and was dizzy in addition to all of her other symptoms. She has one urgent word of caution: “If you have those symptoms, go to the ER.”
“Young people just think they’re invincible, and most of them don’t want to pay what it costs now to go to doctors,” added Liz.
“Life is short, and I guess it’s trite to say ‘Live every day the best way you can,’ but nobody ever thinks it will happen to them.”
Please SHARE Liz’s urgent warning with the ones you love today. After all, it could be the life that Katharine’s story saves.