Flu outbreak difficult for the vunerable

5:07 PM, Jan 12, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - Getting influenza is no fun for most people. But for those who already have a compromised immune system it can be deadly.

Such was the case three years ago for 9-year old Chase Banken of Chanhassen.

His mother, Janet told the story from the Children's Hospital Specialty Clinic Friday evening.

"It was kind of scary," she said. "In 2009 he actually got H1N1 and was hospitalized."

That's serious enough for a healthy child, but Chase was in the middle of treatments for leukemia. So catching influenza was incredibly dangerous.

"He was so susceptible to catch anything," she remembered.

He managed through it and today is cancer free, but is still vulnerable to respiratory illnesses, like the flu.

"He's actually getting over pneumonia but we found out today he still has it," she said.

Although her son isn't as vulnerable as he used to be, this recent flu outbreak still has her concerned. She's not alone.

"When mass numbers of people get sick whether it's in your house or your community, our patients get really nervous," said Dr. Michael Richards, an oncologist for Children's.

Nervous, he says because the flu can shut down a vulnerable household.

"We prepare our patients every year to be careful of the flu," he said.

It's why Dr. Richards is telling people these days to wash their hands almost as much as he is washing his. Even more important is to get that often talked about flu shot, he says.

"If our community protects themselves, then we are protecting members of our communities who have compromised immune symptoms," he said.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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