How Young And Healthy People Can Die From The Flu
The death of a fit and young mother from influenza this week has left a family shattered and many Australians asking -- how is this even possible?
The mother of three died in hospital early on Wednesday morning after catching the flu and developing a secondary infection.
Jacinta Foulds' last words to her husband, Dan, from her hospital bed were: "I'm sorry. I love you".
"I turned to her and said, 'it's not your fault. And I'm sorry and I love you. You're my world'," Dan told The Project in an emotional interview.
The 35-year-old was unwell for about a week before she went to the doctor. She was diagnosed with influenza A last Friday and sent home to recover. On Tuesday, her condition suddenly deteriorated.
"I was at work that morning. She rang me and I said, 'are you alright?' She said, 'no I don't think so... I don't know'."
When Dan walked through the door, he knew something wasn't right.
"I ran back out to my ute, grabbed my phone and rang the ambulance," he said.
My son was at home with a cough. He saw the ambulance turn up. He asked, 'is mummy going to be okay?' I said, 'yeah mate, she just has the flu. She'll be right'.
At hospital they discovered she had contracted pneumonia.
"The doctor came to me and said, 'she's really really sick. She could die'. I hit the floor."
Jacinta was placed in an induced coma from which she never woke.
Where The Flu Hits Hardest
Children aged under five, those over 65, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions and Indigenous people are known to be particularly at risk of contracting the flu.
But health authorities say severe complications can also occur with the flu in people aged under 50 -- and can result in tragic deaths.
Dr Vicky Sheppeard, NSW Health's Director of Communicable Diseases, said this comes down to the widespread nature of the virus.
"For a widespread and common infection, the severe end of the spectrum is rare in those that are otherwise fit and healthy," Sheppeard told 10 daily.
In children, teenagers and young adults, Sheppeard said complications can result from robust immune systems responding strongly to the flu virus.
"Their immune system can essentially create conditions where the body's organs go into failure," she said.
"That's where vaccinations are useful, as introducing a young person's immune system to the virus means it will learn to not overreact in the event of an infection."
Sheppeard urged those in the state who are yet to have their flu shot this year, to do so now, despite winter nearing its end.
“Vaccination is your best protection against the bug and it’s still not too late to get the jab," she said.
It has been reported that the Queensland mum was not vaccinated against the flu. He, too, begged people not to "roll the dice" this flu season.
"The flu is a lot more serious than we all think. It's not something to mess around with," he said.
"I've been through a world of hurt in the last two days. But if I can use the death of my wife, my soulmate, my world in a positive manner, it's not all for nothing."
With more than 180,000 confirmed cases and almost 400 deaths across the country, it has been a devastating flu season -- and authorities are warning it isn't over.
"A record number of Queenslanders have been vaccinated for the flu this year but there is no doubt if more people were vaccinated we could reduce the spread of the flu," Queensland Health minister Steven Miles.
"We have seen a number of tragic deaths that remind us that the flu can affect anyone."
On Friday, NSW Health issued a statement warning influenza continues to spread around the state despite winter coming to an end.
Featured image: GoFundMe