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Sonoma County 23-Year-Old is Latest Bay Area Flu Death

A report identified the victim as 23-year-old Matthew "Matty" Walker of Santa Rosa.

KPIX5 video preview.
KPIX5 video preview.
A Sonoma County resident is among the growing number of recent Bay Area flu deaths, officials announced Thursday.

A 23-year-old who was previously healthy died from an H1N1 flu infection, interim Sonoma County Health Officer Karen Holbrook said in a press release.

KPIX5 identified the man as Santa Rosa resident Matthew "Matty" Walker, a Forestville native, and said he died on Wednesday.

His father told the TV station his son was initially treated for double pneumonia, and doctors induced a coma once the virus hit.

“Young people – they’re all powerful – but something can catch ‘em like this, they’re laying themselves open for possible serious consequences,” Cliff Walker told KPIX5.

Holbrook offered condolences in the press release.

"Our deepest sympathies go out to the family," she was quoted as saying. “While the vast majority of cases of flu have mild or moderate illness, sadly this tragic death reminds all of us that influenza can be a very serious illness.”

According to the Press Democrat, Walker worked at G & G Market in Santa Rosa.

A total of 10 Bay Area residents have died from the flu so far this season. The H1N1 strain spreading across the area is similar to the so-called "swine flu" that led to a pandemic in 2009-2010, according to health officials.

Sonoma County officials offered these tips to protect yourself from the H1N1 flu virus:
  • Get your flu vaccine. It is still widely available at health care facilities and local pharmacies.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.  Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. Parents should set a good example by washing their own hands frequently.
  • Cover your cough, nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Avoid spreading germs by not touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Try to avoid close contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Do not go to work or send children to school while ill. If sick, stay home at least 24 hours after being free of fever (100° F [37.8°C]), or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications like Tylenol or Advil.
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DC Murphy January 11, 2014 at 01:48 AM
How does this happen? Why would a healthy young man up and die from the flu...there is a piece of the puzzle missing. The press is not reporting the real story! Period. There is more to the story....for sure.
Concerned Citizen January 11, 2014 at 01:23 PM
DC Murphy, The poor kid had Double Pneumonia, then contracted the H1N1. His body was so imunocompromized, it's rare ANYONE survives, regardless of age. Before playing the conspiracy card, please educate yourself. This is not the first time this has happened. Whenever Doctors have to "Medically Induce" a Coma in this situation, the patients chances of survival are slim. I would bet that the ONLY part of the story that was not elaborated was that the young man waited too long before seeking treatment for the Pneumonia. My heart goes out to the Walker Family. I'm so sorry for your loss.
bruce mallon January 12, 2014 at 09:13 AM
i am on the end of recovering from this virus. at 70 years old it was the most horrible experience i've ever suffered. i take very good care of myself or i could have crashed. i couldn't sleep for more than an hour here and hour there for a week, walked like a zombie around my house all night going from couch to be and back looking for relief and expelled awful stuff from my lungs. i went to the petaluma clinic and got great help and took their advise and kept my head on straight and suffered through it. a young person will shine on admitting they have a prob. they are invincible and are living life to the max. the parents have to step in and show the way. smoking anything during these moments could be a death warrant. there's no conspiracy here. i wish these political folks would be more scientific where it is needed. something as common as this is killing those who don't take it seriously. our president has made it possible for anyone to see a doctor and there is always, emergency care available. i have a grandson this young man's age and it made me cry to see this young wonderful life gone forever. i'm so sorry for your loss mom and dad.

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