An aspiring personal trainer from Pennsylvania died from septic shock just days after experiencing flu symptoms over the holidays.
Kyler Baughman, an athletic 21-year-old from Latrobe, Pennsylvania, had a runny nose and looked “rundown” when he visited his family just before Christmas on Dec. 23, according to his mother, Beverly Baughman.
“I think he thought, ‘I just got the flu; I’ll be all right,’ ” Beverly Baughman told WPXI. “‘I’ll just go rest a bit. ‘ ”
Baughman—a mover at a local furniture store and an employee of Walmart—returned to see his family on Christmas night and went to work the following morning on Tuesday, but left early due to his deteriorating health.
“He kinda just laid down and went about his day and that was the day he was coughing and said his chest hurt,” his fiancée, Olivia Marcanio, told the news station. “He had a mild cough.”
With his cough worsening and fever rising, Baughman went to a Westmoreland County emergency room on Dec. 27, and was then flown to UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh. But in less than 24 hours, Baughman was dead due to complications from the flu.
“Organ failure due to septic shock caused by influenza,” Beverly Baughman said. “It doesn’t seem real.”
Though most people who get the virus will recover in less than 14 days, according to the CDC, up to 650,000 deaths occur annually from respiratory diseases associated with seasonal flu. Just ten years ago, that estimate was 250,000 to 500,000, the center says, adding that their finding highlights the importance of prevention.
Baughman’s parents said they believe their son did not receive his flu shot this season, and though there have been reports the vaccination may have a lower success rate this year, it can still lessen the chance of someone catching it by 10 to 60 percent. It can never be 100 percent effective, the center says.
Shawn Burrough, a 48-year-old father of four from California, has been hospitalized since the beginning of the year after he continued to work after experiencing flu symptoms. Burrough, too, did not receive a shot, his family told PEOPLE.
Despite their grief, Baughman’s parents are speaking out to warn others about how to respond to flu symptoms.
“Try and know your body. Don’t let things go,” Kyler’s father, Todd Baughman, told WXPI. “Whenever you have a fever for multiple days, don’t let it go, get it taken care of.”
Beverly Baughman agreed.
“I just think he ignored it and thought it’d go away like most people,” she said. “I think people need to pay more attention to their bodies.”