ALPENA, MI – 27 year old Justin Wieschowski died Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, due to complications of the H1N1 influenza virus. At least 10 Michiganders have died from a deadly strain of H1N1 and public health officials are pleading with residents to get a flu shot if they haven’t already. Those numbers are more than likely understated as indicated by the CDC.
Two of the three adults who died had resided in Washtenaw County. An infant in mid-Michigan also died. Three residents have died in Oakland County. Their ages are 23, 25 and 29.
Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. Here’s how to tell if you have the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control:
- Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
* It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the flu, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death.
Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections are examples of complications from flu. The flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may experience worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu.
People at Higher Risk from Flu
Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to flu can happen at any age, but some people are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and young children.
Flu is unpredictable and how severe it is can vary widely from one season to the next depending on many things, including:
- What flu viruses are spreading,
- How much flu vaccine is available,
- When vaccine is available,
- How many people get vaccinated, and
- How well the flu vaccine is matched to flu viruses that are causing illness.
Review good health habits with your children, such as:
- Covering the mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing, and disposing of the tissue immediately in a proper trash receptacle
- Refraining from touching the eyes, nose and mouth to prevent the spread of germs
- Washing the hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
- Using an alcohol-based hand rub when soap and water are not immediately available
- Stay home if you are getting ill