On January 4, just two days after her flu symptoms began, a 40-year-old mother of three from San Jose, California, fell victim to complications linked to the viral infection.
A healthy marathon runner who worked out often and practiced yoga, according to KRON4, Katie Oxley Thomas developed a fever, sore throat, and muscle aches on Tuesday, January 2. The same day, The Mercury News reports, she went to the doctor, who diagnosed her with the flu and prescribed rest. Thomas's symptoms had worsened by the next day, so she went to the emergency room at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose. Her diagnosis was re-confirmed, and she was sent home.
Later that evening, though, Thomas began to have trouble breathing, so she returned to the E.R. with her boyfriend. There, The Mercury News reports, she was diagnosed with pneumonia, a lung infection that can be caused by a virus (such as the flu), according to MedlinePlus.
By Thursday morning, Thomas began to succumb to fever and septic shock, which is typically triggered by a bacterial infection but can also be caused by fungi or, in rare cases, a virus (such as the flu), according to MedlinePlus.
Thomas had recently broken her hand in a car accident and had undergone two reparative surgeries. When Thomas's brother, Anthony Oxley, arrived at the hospital on Thursday morning, Thomas's wound was visibly infected, he told The Mercury News.
Thomas ultimately lost consciousness and passed away around 5 p.m. from acute organ failure resulting from pneumonia and flu, according to her obituary. (Results from a private autopsy requested by Thomas's family are forthcoming, according to Thomas's father, Walt Oxley.)
Thomas is survived by her 7-, 15-, and 17-year-old children, her four siblings, and her father. As the family mourns, they hope others will take the flu more seriously.
"We encourage people to get their flu shots and be their own advocates for their health," Walt said. "Don't be satisfied with being told to go home and rest because you have the flu. Get them to test what kind of flu you have, and get Tamiflu [and anti viral medication] or whatever antibiotics are needed."
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