The 48-Hour Killer
August 30, 2018 |
Dear Money & Crisis Reader,
This is the tragic tale of a young girl who was struck down by one of the most common and dangerous illnesses in the United States today.
Fair warning: Today’s story may be upsetting to those who have lost loved ones to this illness. Or scary to anyone with a lick of common sense between their ears. But this infectious disease is an ever-present danger everyone should be aware of.
Over the years, this endemic sickness has killed hundreds of millions of people. And no matter how many times we figure out a way to kill it… or cure it… it comes back stronger and more resistant to our medicines.
The Sad Tale of Britt Andersen
On March 24, 2016, Britt Anderson came down with an itchy throat.
When she told her mother Franki she wasn’t feeling quite like herself, Franki sprung into Mom Mode.
She picked up some over-the-counter medicine at the pharmacy, made Britt some toast and juice and sent her straight to bed.
Once she was all tucked in, Britt said she was feeling okay. But just a few hours later, Franki heard a strange rattle coming from Britt’s room.
There, she found her daughter unconscious, lying on her back and emitting a raspy noise from her mouth.
When the paramedics arrived, Britt had no pulse. The paramedics were able to restart her heart but by the time they got to the hospital, her other organs were already starting to fail.
Britt was in, what is called by doctors, sepsis. Basically, her body was releasing chemicals into her bloodstream to fight the disease. But those very chemicals were causing a cascade of internal reactions that were rapidly killing her.
On the morning of March 26, 2016 — just two days after she started feeling ill — Britt went into cardiac arrest and died.
You’re probably wondering what infectious disease could possibly work that quickly, right?
Well, Britt had the flu.
Tragedy Strikes Suddenly
Most folks don’t think of the flu as a life-threatening illness.
After all, we’ve all experienced the flu or at least known someone who’s had it at some point in our lives. And many of those folks recovered just fine.
But every year, the flu results in about three to five million cases of severe illness and about 250,000 to 500,000 deaths. And this isn’t some crazy super flu. This is your regular garden-variety influenza.
Healthy, young bodies tend to be able to fight off the flu with relative ease. But the disease is extremely dangerous to the very young, the old or the sick. And even healthy folks can die from the complications caused by the flu.
The people most at risk of complications and those who need to most careful are:
- Children under five
- Adults over 65
- People with lung and heart conditions
- People with weakened immune systems
- Pregnant women
A common cause of death by flu is when seemingly healthy folks are living with undiagnosed conditions. These seemingly harmless conditions are so mild folks don’t even know that they have them. But these conditions can cause dire complications when they interact with the flu.
Stay Healthy, Stay Alive
When you consider the risks, the only smart option is to take steps to protect yourself from ever getting sick in the first place.
The annual flu vaccine is the only surefire way to reduce your risk of infection. This reduces your chance of getting the flu by about 60%. But that number can vary year to year as the strain of flu is constantly changing.
Serese Marotta, the chief operating officer of Families Fighting Flu, told WebMD, “We commonly hear that people don’t bother to get vaccinated because they think it’s not effective, and therefore, not worth it.”
Serese became an advocate for flu vaccination after she lost her five-year-old son Joseph to influenza in 2009.
Practicing good hygiene and washing your hands frequently will also reduce the risk of contracting the disease. And if someone in your home gets ill, it’s a good idea to temporarily wear a surgical mask around the house. You can pick up a box of 50 masks on Amazon for $6.
Worst case scenario: If you or a loved one get sick this flu season, keep an eye on your symptoms and go straight to the emergency room if any of the following emergency warning signs occur:
- Flu symptoms that get better but then relapse with a high fever and severe cough
- Bluish discoloration of the skin
- Fever and a rash
- Not drinking fluids
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Extreme vomiting
Tomorrow we’re going to look at when the flu virus hits the fan and spins out of control into a global spanning pandemic. The last time we were hit badly was in 2009. And it could happen again any time soon.
All the best,
Editor, Money & Crisis