Woman delivers baby then dies of flu, officials say

BREVARD, Fla. —A pregnant woman delivered her baby and then died of the flu, Florida health officials said.

The woman contracted the flu while pregnant, then delivered a healthy baby but was unable to recover, and doctors took her off life support, said Dr. Rajee Paul, Merritt Island Walk-In Clinic spokesman.

She was in her mid-20s and delivered her baby in December before being hospitalized at the Health First Holmes Regional Medical Center, said Dr. Heidar Heshmati, director of the county Health Department.

She is the second woman to die from the flu in Brevard County this month. Two other patients remain on life support in the county, said Paul.

The flu is spreading fiercely across the country, and Brevard County has just issued a flu advisory. Doctors are spreading the word and hoping people will listen and get vaccinated.

"Every day I am getting emails from CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) that in Florida -- that Floridians should get the flu shots," Paul said. "It has become pandemic."

Paul said the clinic has seen an increase in patients receiving the flu shot after a woman in her 30s died from the flu earlier this month but that most patients are still declining to get it.

Officials said they believe getting people vaccinated and taking routine precautions should stop the spread of the flu.

Every year, 36,000 people die of the flu nationwide, and levels of reported flu cases in central Florida are approaching those of the last serious flu epidemic, which was in 2007.

Symptoms of the illness include headache, runny nose, fever and coughing.

Doctors said there is plenty of vaccine on hand and that residents can get it at local health departments or doctors' offices.

"Comparing to past years, we have started sooner and the numbers are higher. That's why I want to advise people to take some precautions," said Heshmati.


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