A mother of three from California, who was an avid runner and enjoyed being active, died a few days after showing symptoms of influenza, a virus that has killed dozens of people in the state and throughout the country. country this season.
Katie Denise Oxley Thomas seemed happy and healthy when he called in the New Year with friends. But only two days later, when Thomas was preparing his three children to visit his father in San Diego, she had a fever and a sore throat. The 40-year-old woman visited her doctor, who diagnosed her with influenza and recommended that she rest at home.
Even with rest, his condition worsened just 24 hours later, and Thomas was taken to the emergency room of the nearby hospital. Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, California. Once again, doctors recommended that she return home to recover, but later that night, Thomas struggled to breathe, and her boyfriend took her to the hospital. The doctors scanned her lungs and discovered that she had pneumonia and quickly put her on a respirator. Early the next morning, he went into septic shock.
"It was very, very fast", Thomas' sister, Amber Oxley, 34, fashion designer Brooklyn, he tells PEOPLE. "My brother went directly to the hospital and spoke with the doctor, and they told him they should take their children on a flight and bring them in. That was a real wake-up call so that she would not survive, none of us expected to hear that at all" .
More than 200,000 Americans are hospitalized each year due to the flu, leading to some 36,000 deaths. The virus is increasingly deadly when it leads to pneumonia, as it sometimes does, and according to the CDC, the combination of influenza and pneumonia was the eighth cause of death in 2016. The center adds that each year, more than 1.5 million people in the United States experience sepsis, which causes more than 250,000 deaths.
A team of doctors was called to the Intensive Care Unit to help stabilize their fever, as it continued to rise on Thursday morning, but Thomas soon lost consciousness.
On the evening of January 4, Thomas was pronounced dead, only two days after his initial diagnosis of influenza.
"Katie was very energetic, full of life, and it was always the life of the party." She had so much energy, had just turned 40 and was very fit, loved running and had recently joined yoga and pilates "says Oxley. "She was an extremely healthy person and there was no warning sign, she was a really amazing mother and she loved her children to pieces."
Oxley says the family is not sure if Thomas received the flu vaccine or not, and an autopsy this week will help determine if he did it. Thomas' death occurs during a season of flu that has been particularly deadly, and California has seen at least 27 people under the age of 65 die of the virus since October. The CDC says that although the flu vaccine is not 100 percent effective, it can still decrease the chance that someone will reach it between 10 and 60 percent.
The family has no "resentment" towards the doctors who initially saw Thomas, Oxley says, and hopes that the people who they experience flu-like symptoms press to receive more tests from doctors to determine what type of flu they have and to detect pneumonia.
"I'm sad, I'm really really sad," says Oxley. "I'm a paranoid disaster, it's terrifying that something so contagious can be so dangerous, I feel like I'm still in shock, it feels so crazy that she could die so fast, we're very sad, and we're really going to miss her."