Saturday, January 11, 2014
Carrollton teen’s death from flu raises concerns in Denton County
Officials say people taking medication for the flu should feel better in three days or less. If symptoms don't improve, see a doctor immediately.
CARROLLTON A local teen recently died from the flu, and her death underscores the drastic difference of this season’s strain from years past.
Lydia Kizziar, a 13-year-old resident from Carrollton, died January 4. The Denton County Health Department said she had underlying health conditions and had not received a flu vaccine for the season. Kizziar was a seventh grade student at Lewisville’s Founders Classical Academy.
“It’s my understanding that she became ill after the break,” said Grif Griffin, chief communications officer for Founders Classical Academy. “When we heard, we first reached out to the family to see if we could assist them in any way. Then we notified the other parents in the school before students returned from the break.”
Students at Founders Classical Academy created a memorial in front of the school with photos of Kizziar and flowers. In addition, the Lydia Kizziar Memorial Fund was set up to help the parents with the cost of care and funeral expenses. According to the fund’s website, Kizziar’s parents are recently unemployed, and their youngest daughter, Katie, is still in the hospital with the flu.
Those wishing to donate may visit http://www.youcaring.com/memorial-fundraiser/lydia-kizziar-memorial-fund/123695.
A second Denton County resident also died from the flu within a few days of Lydia Kizziar. The patient was a male in his 70s also with underlying health conditions. The man was also a Carrollton resident. Officials do not know if the man had been vaccinated. Those were the first two influenza-associated deaths in Denton County for 2013-14 flu season.
“We have received reports of increased flu activity recently, and anticipate high activity for the next several weeks,” said Juan Rodriguez, Denton County Health Department chief epidemiologist.
One local doctor said officials are seeing a similar outbreak pattern from 2009.
“The CDC is watching the outbreak real closely and so far the numbers are not out of line in terms of other seasons. This year isn’t any worse than previous years, but it is different,” said Dr. Darla Kincaid, who practices with MD Pediatric Associates. “Anytime a 13-year-old dies, everyone perks up because it’s unusual for someone of that age to die from the flu. This year though we’re seeing that the flu is affecting teens and young adults in higher numbers and is having a more severe affect on them.”
Kincaid said doctors are seeing a lot of patients in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with the strain that is more highly affecting teens.
“If your teenager gets sick, don’t wait to seek medical attention. Usually with teens, we’re more likely to wait because they usually bounce back easily, but that’s not the case with this strain,” Kincaid said. “Also, even though we’re in the midst of the outbreak it’s not too late to get vaccinated. Vaccines for older kids are easier to find, and we could have a few more weeks or months left of the flu season.”
Kincaid said most people who die from the flu die from combination of the flu and pneumonia.
The North Texas area is in the heat of the season, and the CDC recognized Texas as having widespread involvement. Kincaid said it may be difficult to find the flu vaccine, but she advised people to check with their doctor or the health department. As of Thursday afternoon, county health officials said their Lewisville and Denton offices had plenty of vaccines.
Kincaid said her best advice for people is to get immunized. She said all children, who are at least 6 months old, should be immunized. She said children 6 to 24 months are at a higher risk and should definitely be immunized.
“It’s really essential for patients with underlying conditions including kids with asthma or other chronic illnesses,” Kincaid said.
Kincaid also said people should also try to avoid exposure to children with fever and large groups of children, especially babies. She said washing your hands consistently is the most effective way to prevent spread of respiratory droplets.
“If you know you have been exposed, and you’re developing flu like symptoms such as fever, joint pains and weakness, you should seek treatment right away,” Kincaid said. “Antiviral meds work best when given ASAP. The earlier you get the meds, the better.”
Kincaid said people should begin to feel better 48 to 72 hours after starting Tamiflu. She said after that time those who are not improving or feeling worse should see a doctor immediately. However, she said even after patients are given antiviral medication, they could still have a fever for a few days after, but shouldn’t be feeling worse.
Kincaid said the flu strain that is predominate right now is influenza A, but there are two strains that have been isolated. She said officials have also identified one strain of influenza B.
“People generally will not get the same strain twice, but because there are multiple strains out there, they could have the misfortune of getting another strain. I have seen children who have gotten both strains,” Kincaid said. “ There are two major classes of vaccines and both protect against the most common strains. Even if you’ve already had the flu, you could still get vaccinated against the other strains.”
Kincaid said the flu virus mutates very easily and could even mutate during the season.
“It’s literally different every year, and parts of the country could be different from this area,” Kincaid said.
In addition to a sharp increase in the number of flu cases, North Texans are also facing extreme swings in temperatures. Sunday’s high temperature is expected to be 70 degrees, but just six days earlier, the low temperature was nearly 55 degrees lower.
“It’s not clear that the weather does have a direct affect on immunity,” Kincaid said. “However, when it gets cold, people stay inside and are more likely to be exposed to each other, which could account for the rise in illness.”
Pegasus News Content partner - Star Local News
- Firefighters battle paper fire in 100-degree weather
- Theater review: Accompany a father on a journey between religion and culture in Fiddler on the Roof
- Police seek information about July 6 fatality on I-35E in Carrollton
- Photos: Volkswagens compete for "best display of rust" and "best survivor"
- Odd man out: Tales of getting turned down during The Real World audition in Dallas