HURRICANE, W.Va. - A nurse from Putnam County has died after complications developed from a case of the flu.
Stacy Sparks, 43, of Hurricane, West Virginia, died Sunday after the sudden onset of pneumonia after contracting a simple case of the flu, confirmed Nathan Stowers, her son.
Stowers spoke with the hope that others begin to see the flu for how severe it truly is, and to take as much caution as possible against it.
"Just don't assume you will be OK," Stowers said. "If you even think you have the flu, go get the medicine you need immediately.
"I want everyone to fully understand how bad the flu is this year. I want people to know exactly what the flu can lead to."
Sparks' funeral will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24, at Chapman Funeral Home in Teays Valley, West Virginia - open to all who knew her. She leaves behind two children, a son and daughter.
In 2018, an aggressive flu virus (H3N2) is more prevalent. This flu virus tends to cause more intense illness and a higher risk of complications and fatalities.
Those at greatest risk include young children, seniors over age 65, pregnant women, individuals with other illnesses or medical issues and individuals with compromised immune systems.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has listed West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky as having widespread flu activity, along with high rates of hospital visits with flu-like symptoms.
According to the CDC's Pneumonia and Influenza Mortality Surveillance from the National Center for Health Statistics Mortality Surveillance System, 293 West Virginians died from either pneumonia or flu from October to Dec. 17, 2017, compared to 326 people during the same time in 2016.
West Virginia annually averages about 400 deaths associated with influenza and pneumonia, mostly among people over 65.
On Monday, West Virginia's first pediatric flu death of the current season was reported. A 6-year-old from Ohio County is the first child in the state to die of flu since the 2014-15 season, according to the state Department of Health and Human Resources.
Flu symptoms typically include fever (though not everyone with the flu runs a fever), chills, sore throat, runny nose, coughing and/or sneezing, body aches and pains, fatigue, and in some cases diarrhea and/or vomiting.
If you become ill with the flu:
>> Stay home to avoid spreading the virus.
>> Get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids.
>> Take your temperature regularly.
>> Do not return to routine activities until you are well.
If your symptoms continue to worsen and/or you experience a consistently high temperature, contact your physician and arrange for timely medical care.
While there is no cure for the flu, there are drugs that your doctor may prescribe to make you better faster. These drugs, called "antivirals," may also prevent serious complications and are best taken within 48 hours of the first symptoms.
If you come down with the flu, stay home at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or necessities. Until your fever is gone for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicines such as Tylenol, avoid work, school, travel, dining out, shopping, social events and public gatherings.
This rule applies to any individuals in your household who have the flu. If you must go out, wearing a facemask is a good idea, and be sure to carry tissues and wash your hands often.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.