Another day goes by, and another life is taken away by the deadly flu season in the United States. The flu is already troublesome, but what about the cost of medicine needed to alleviate its symptoms?
A schoolteacher has passed away from flu complications after deciding not to take medication because it "costs too much," according to her husband. Heather Holland, 38 years old, taught at a school in Texas until she passed away on Feb. 4.
Another Person Falls Victim To The Flu
She fell ill with the flu around two weeks ago and was prescribed antiviral medication for it. Then she saw how much it cost — $116 — decided it was too high, and balked.
Antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu, are able to diminish the impact and duration of flu symptoms, but they aren't direct cures.
"It's principle with her. She's a very frugal person in general, always has been," her husband, Frank Holland, told The Wall Street Journal. When she refused to buy the medicine, Frank himself made the purchase and asked her to start taking it.
Looking back, says Frank, he wished his wife and her fellow teachers had better medicinal coverage given their exposure.
Even with the medication, her condition worsened. She kept herself quarantined in the couple's bedroom, and it appeared "she was turning the corner," according to her husband. On Friday evening, Heather's fever spiked, and she had nausea plus diarrhea. At about 11 p.m., family members rushed her to the Texas Health Southwest emergency room, and she was admitted to the intensive care unit. Doctors went to get her blood cultures and had to put her on dialysis by Saturday.
Then on the morning of Feb. 4, Heather passed away.
"We've been together a long time, over half my life. She's my best friend, my soulmate, my everything," said Frank.
Flu Deaths Rise
Her death adds to the growing number of casualties as a surge of flu ravages the country. Nationwide, hospitals are seeing record numbers of patients diagnosed with the flu. In fact, the country is now at a point where the current flu season has become equal in severity to that of the swine flu in 2009, one of the deadliest, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It doesn't look like it's going to get better anytime soon, either.
"Unfortunately, more deaths are likely to happen" over the next few weeks, CDC acting director Anne Schuchat said on Feb. 9 during a briefing.
Since December, the Weatherford Independent School District, where Heather worked at, has been deep-cleaning its campuses to protect students and staff from being victims of the nasty flu season.