A seemingly fit 21-year-old man is among the 18 people who have died from influenza complications in Pennsylvania during the current flu season.
The family of Kyler Baughman of Latrobe, Pennsylvania told NBC10 affiliate WPXI he was always into physical fitness and was going to school to be a personal trainer. When Baughman came home to visit during the holidays however, he appeared to be sick.
After celebrating with his family on Christmas, he returned to work on December 26 but went home early after not feeling well. Baughman’s fiancée told WPXI he was coughing and complaining of mild chest pain. Baughman’s condition grew worse the next day and he began running a fever on and off.
He was taken to a Westmoreland County emergency room and then flown to UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh. Less than a day later, on December 28, Baughman was pronounced dead. His family said he died from “organ failure due to septic shock caused by influenza.” They also said he never got a flu shot.
“I just think he ignored it and thought it’d go away like most people, and I think people need to pay more attention to their bodies,” Baughman’s mother told WPXI.
So far this season, 18 flu deaths have been reported in Pennsylvania. Baughman is the only victim between the ages of 19 and 49. One person under the age of 18 also died from the flu. The rest of the Pennsylvania victims are over the age of 50.
While the young, the sick and the elderly are most at risk during the flu season, doctors warn that young, healthy people aren’t immune.
“For young people, think of it in the perspective of college-age kids in a dorm situation, in close contact, with many other people,” Dr. Robyn Baron, medical director of Temple University Health System’s Readycare division told NBC10. “In that situation, that predisposes them to something contagious like influenza.”
While the flu season is in full swing, it’s not too late to get a flu shot.
“Immunizations are usually (available) up to March 30,” Dr. Baron said. “Those people at risk, they definitely want to immunize.”
To learn more about the flu and ways to stay healthy, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health website.