Flu deaths on the rise in Georgia, claims 19 lives

by: Diana Davis Updated:


ATLANTA, Ga. - The number of flu deaths in Georgia is quickly rising. So far 19 people have died in Georgia due to the flu — nearly double the number of deaths from last season.

Channel 2's Diana Davis talked to the mother of a teenage girl who is critically ill.

"It's the worst thing that any mother could go through," Candy Moss told Davis.

Her 16-year-old daughter was admitted to the hospital with the flu the day after Christmas. She's been in the intensive care unit ever since.

Moss said it's mind blowing that influenza could transform a healthy young woman to someone critically ill so quickly.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says influenza is now widespread in at least 35 states, including Georgia, where 19 patients under the age of 65 have died. Many of the most seriously ill are middle aged and young people, like the Moss' daughter.

"It's the H1N1 strain, which we saw back in 2009. This virus, particularly the H1N1 strain, can cause very severe illness. It can put your child or your teenage in the intensive case unit on a ventilator," said Dr. Jim Fortenberry, of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

Moss' daughter was pregnant. All pregnant women are at increased risk for serious complications and death from flu.

She had not received a flu shot.

"They were going to give her the flu shot but she had a cold and they said, 'We can't give it to you with a cold,' and here is where we are," said Moss.

Moss' daughter's illness is just one more example of why it is so critical for all pregnant women to get flu shots. The baby delivered by cesarean section is hanging on but was born 15 weeks premature.

"They told us they had to take the baby or they would lose both of them," said Moss, who told Davis the baby is also fighting to survive.

Flu shots are not 100 percent effective, but they are the best protection against flu, Fortenberry said.

"Even if it doesn't prevent you from getting the flu, it can cause you to have a less severe form of the flu," he said.

Dr. Parick O'Neal, of the Georgia Department of Public Health, says this year's vaccine contained protection against four flu strains. That includes H1N1, the strain that seems to be causing most cases of flu.

"It's hitting folks hard and it's hitting folks fast. The rapidity with which people get ill and seriously ill is amazing(ly) bad," said O'Neal.

If you haven't had a flu shot, it's not too late to get one.

"If you love your kid, my thing would be please give your child a flu shot," Moss said.

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