Angie Barwise had come down with the flu around the holidays.
Days after Christmas, the 58-year-old Texas mother and grandmother was diagnosed with influenza, along with bronchitis and strep, her family told Fox affiliate KDFW.
Doctors gave her antibiotics and Tamiflu, an antiviral medication used to help treat the flu, and, soon after, she started to bounce back. But almost exactly a month later, her family said, she was in the emergency room — this time, with a different strain of the virus.
After beating the flu once, Barwise was battling it all over again.
Her husband, Greg Barwise, told KDFW that her fever was difficult to control. “Every 4½ hours,” he said, “we'd have to give her medicine to get the fever down.”
He said he took her to an emergency room Jan. 31 near their home in Fort Worth. Doctors ran tests and then sent them home. But the next day, he said, he was told to bring his wife back to the hospital.
“They called me at 2:30 and said, 'Oh, you need to get her back up here,' ” Barwise told CBS DFW, adding that he was told there was something in his wife's bloodwork.
KDFW reported that Angie Barwise also had pneumonia and was in septic shock, a life-threatening medical condition that can be a complication of influenza, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On Saturday — a week after her second bout with the flu — she died.
“I left for just a few minutes — I thought everything was going to be okay,” Greg Barwise told CBS DFW. That's when, he said, “I got a phone call that she had just passed.”
He told KDFW that the family is devastated.
“She's a wonderful wife, a wonderful mother and wonderful daughter,” her husband said.
Angie Barwise's death comes as the worst flu season in years is sweeping across the United States.
Since the start of the season in October, more than 17,000 people have been hospitalized. The greatest percentage of those were adults older than 50 and children younger than 4, according to the CDC's most recent data.
The CDC said that during the week ending Feb. 2, the agency received reports of 10 children who recently died of influenza and related complications. In total, the agency said, 63 children have died during the current flu season.
As The Washington Post's Lena H. Sun reported, federal officials said Friday that the number of people seeking care has hit levels not seen since the peak of the 2009 swine flu pandemic.
Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s acting director, said during a news conference that “this does not mean we’re having a pandemic. But it is a signal of how very intense the flu season has been. We may be on track to break some recent records.”
Pandemics occur when there is a new strain of virus for which people have no previous exposure. That's not the case here, because the seasonal strains that are circulating this year are not new. But the predominant one, H3N2, is a particularly nasty strain that is associated with more complications, hospitalizations and deaths, especially among children, those older than 65 and people with certain chronic conditions.
The CDC lists ways to help avoid the flu — including getting the vaccine:
- If you are healthy, avoid contact with those who are sick. And if you are sick, limit contact with those who are healthy.
- When you cough or sneeze, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue. If you don't have a tissue, use your upper sleeve.
- Wash your hands with soap and water or, when washing them is not an option, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Barwise had not received the vaccine this year, according to her family.
Barwise, who is survived by her husband, children and 13 grandchildren, was a “loving mother, grandmother and daughter,” according to her obituary. Her memorial service is Friday in Fort Worth.
“I've outlived my own daughter,” Eileen Smith, Barwise's mother, told KDFW. “I'm 83 years old, and I've outlived her. It shouldn't be that way.”