A 21-year-old Latrobe man died of flu-related complications just after Christmas, Allegheny County officials confirmed to the Tribune-Review Wednesday.
Kyler Baughman died Dec. 28 at UPMC Presbyterian of septic shock from influenza, according to the medical examiner's office.
He came down with the flu a couple days before Christmas, his mother, Beverly Baughman, told WPXI earlier this week. “I think he thought, ‘I just got the flu; I'll be all right,'” she said.
He ran a fever for several days and went to a Westmoreland County emergency room on Dec. 27, before being flown to Presby. He died there the next day. Baughman's family told WPXI that he did not get a flu shot this season.
“In ordinary influenza seasons it's rare for a 21-year-old to succumb, but it does occur,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a Pittsburgh-based infectious disease expert for the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
The flu kills about 36,000 people a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those at higher risk of dying include the very young and the very old, Adalja said.
“In this season, the deaths are expected cluster at those extremes of age but it isn't unheard of for a young vibrant person to die from flu based on their own idiosyncratic response to the virus,” Adalja said. “Such deaths underscore the seriousness of this infectious disease.”
Flu symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, congestion, body aches, headaches and severe fatigue. Symptoms can last a week to 10 days.
“Try and know your body. Don't let things go,” Baughman's father, Todd Baughman told the television station. “Whenever you have a fever for multiple days, don't let it go, get it taken care of.”
The family declined to be interviewed by the Trib this week, through Kyler Baughman's fiance' Olivia Marcanio, who also declined comment.
“It just doesn't seem real,” his mother told WPXI.
An obituary said he worked at Springhill Furniture and Walmart, and “enjoyed motocross, reading, and going to the gym.”
Flu activity usually begins in October and peaks between December and March.
Through Jan. 6, the number of flu cases in Allegheny County totaled 1,842 with 658 cases in Westmoreland County, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. A week earlier, there were 906 cases reported in Allegheny County and 318 in Westmoreland County. The CDC said flu activity in Pennsylvania is widespread in, meaning outbreaks occurring in at least half of the regions in the state.
Eighteen Pennsylvanians have died so far of flu-related complications this season, according to the state, which does not identify where the deaths occur.
Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991, [email protected] or via Twitter at @Bencschmitt.