Local News

Three Inland Northwest residents dead in flu outbreak

SPOKANE, Wash. - Flu outbreak deaths vo

A deadly flu is sweeping across the United States right now, killing two people this week from Spokane County and another in Bonner County.

The Spokane Regional Health District says flu complications have killed 11 people in Washington this flu season while 135 people have been hospitalized in Spokane County, 104 more people than were hospitalized with the flu at this time last year. Adults between the ages of 18 and 64 account for 61 percent of the hospitalizations.

The intensity of the flu fluctuates from year to year depending on the strain. This year we are seeing the return of the H1N1 virus and that is sending a lot more people to the hospital.

Just before Christmas the Boyer family welcomed little Jackson into the world. The celebration, however, cut short when mom Amanda got sick.

"Really short of breath, coughing a lot then the next day, on Christmas my ears swelled up," Amanda Boyer said.

Sacred Heart admitted her with the flu, something that caught Amanda by surprise.

"The flu was just so intense it wasn't like normal I mean I've had the flu before and this was scary," said Boyer.

So far this year 135 people in Spokane County have been hospitalized with the flu, compare that to last year's 31. On Monday two people from Spokane County died from flu complications. Another man from Bonner County died in a Spokane hospital as well, the first reported flu related death of a person in North Idaho.

"This year is definitely one of the worst we've seen for a number of years," said Dr. Joel McCullough, Health Officer for the Spokane Regional Health District.

One reason the flu is so much more intense is the return of the H1N1 virus, which hit hard in 2010 and is the predominate strain in Eastern Washington cases this season.

"For those with underlying health condition or for those who are having severe symptoms, like I outlined before, like severe fever, shortness of breath, unable to keep things down, that would be, a recommended to go to your doctor then," said Dr. McCullough.

Just like in Spokane, the flu spread in the Boyer home.

"When I woke up I was all like coughing and when I was coughing my lungs started to hurt," said 5-year-old Mackenzie Boyer.

And with so many cases already in Spokane County, doctors believe many more will catch the virus before the end of the flu season.

"If you feel sick, don't go to work, don't go to school drink plenty of fluids, use respiratory etiquette," said Dr. McCullough.

For the Boyers, they're glad the worst is behind them.

"It was pretty hard and was away from my family and my new baby for three days," said Amanda Boyer.

Boyer did get a flu shot right before she contracted the virus. Doctors say it's not too late to get the shot or the mist.