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Published: Saturday, 12/13/2003

South Toledo woman, 50, may be the first flu fatality in the area

BY RYAN E. SMITH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Lucas County could have its first fatality of this flu season.

Sharon Jackson, 50, of South Toledo died Wednesday in St. Charles Mercy Hospital after being diagnosed with influenza by doctors there, according to her family.

The hospital and doctors declined last night to provide any information about Ms. Jackson s death.

And the case remains unconfirmed by the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department. Dr. David Grossman, health commissioner, said he is not familiar with the case. “Hopefully by Monday, we ll know a whole bunch more,” he said.

Sharon Vore, one of Ms. Jackson s daughters, said the family was told by a St. Charles doctor that her mother had the influenza “A” strain, an aggressive bug making the rounds this year.

Ms. Jackson, who was hoping to marry in the coming weeks, initially went to the hospital Dec. 3, dehydrated and aching and having felt sick for a couple of days. She went home but returned the next day and eventually was put on life support, her family said.

“She couldn t keep anything down either way,” Mrs. Vore said. “She was very, very weak - no energy at all.”

Ms. Jackson s sister-in-law, Lenore Osenbaugh, also became ill and went to St. Charles about the same time. She was released after several days. Doctors said she had the flu as well, Mrs. Vore said.

Twenty-four states are reporting widespread flu outbreaks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Ohio is among the 15 states with regional outbreaks. Michigan is listed as having only local outbreaks.

Ohio had its first confirmed influenza-related death earlier this week - a 14-month-old in Ross County. The very young, very old, and those with chronic illness are most at risk for influenza, one of the state s top 10 killers.

“It s always a cause of concern,” Dr. Grossman said. “I would be surprised if we don t see some people die of the flu. We see 3,000 in Ohio [die] almost every year.”

The local health department has gone through more than 3,100 doses of the flu vaccine and has now run out of it, he said.

“The reason we re out of it isn t that we didn t make enough. The demand has gone up dramatically,” Dr. Grossman said.

Ms. Jackson had not had a flu vaccine, although she and her fiance, Ralph A. Jackson, had talked about it. After she was diagnosed, a number of family members got the vaccine at St. Charles, and Mr. Jackson said he took other family members later.

He described Ms. Jackson, who attended Waite High School, as someone who was always warm and happy. She constantly kept busy, and enjoyed helping others.

“It s hard to find a picture of her where she isn t smiling,” he said.

A lover of camping and the outdoors in general, she worked as a funding coordinator for Cook, Kennedy & Associates PLLC, Mrs. Vore said. Ms. Jackson had three daughters and 10 grandchildren.

Even though the local health department is out of flu shots, they are available elsewhere.

ProMedica Health System, for example, will offer flu shots to the public over the next week at the following locations:

w Sautter s 5-Star Market, 5519 South Main St., Sylvania, 10 a.m. to noon today. People must be at least 18 years old.

w Toledo Hospital, 2142 North Cove Blvd., 7 to 10 a.m. Tuesday in the emergency room. Children must be at least 4 years old.

w Bay Park Community Hospital Professional Office Building, 2751 Bay Park Dr., Suite 100, Oregon, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday. People must be at least 18 years old.

w Sylvania Senior Center, 7140 West Sylvania Ave., Sylvania, 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday. People must be at least 18 years old.

All flu shots at the clinics will cost $17.



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