The flu-related death Tuesday of a 29-year-old Toledo man has made this flu season Lucas County’s deadliest in the last five years.
Eric Sherman, Jr., was a youth pastor who also worked at Charter One Bank and leaves behind a 3-year-old daughter. He died in St. Luke’s Hospital, Maumee, from what his father called “a lethal combination of the flu and pneumonia.”
Dr. David Grossman, the Toledo-Lucas County health commissioner, said Mr. Sherman likely died from the H1N1 flu strain, but that had not been confirmed as of Tuesday. An autopsy will be conducted today to determine the official cause of death.
Eric Sherman, Sr., a Toledo firefighter and the pastor of Victory Life Worship Center, said the family was in shock because his son had always been healthy. He doesn’t think his son received a flu vaccination this year.
“I’ve never had a flu shot, but I plan to get one now after this,” the father said.
He said his son had been coughing and feeling sick for a couple of weeks, but he really didn’t feel the need to seek medical attention.
“He had just taken the youth from the church on an outing on Saturday,” the elder Mr. Sherman said.
He started to feel “yucky” Sunday and went to the Sylvania Urgent Care clinic, where doctors said he tested positive for the flu.
“They seemed more concerned about the fact that he had double pneumonia,” the father said. “I asked the doctor if he needed to be hospitalized. He said, ‘No, he is young, he’ll bounce back, he’ll do good, he can fight this. ”
The younger Mr. Sherman wasn’t admitted to the hospital because “he was not that lethargic and he was talking regular,” his father said.
The next day, however, things took a sour turn — Mr. Sherman's condition worsened as the day went on and by evening, he had difficulty breathing.
He was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital by ambulance about 9 p.m. Monday and admitted into the intensive-care unit, but did not recover. He died about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The flu deaths of five Lucas County residents, including Mr. Sherman, in recent weeks exceed the flu-related toll in the county during any of the last five years.
No confirmed deaths from the flu occurred in the county during the last two seasons. One flu-related death occurred in the 2010-11 flu season, and in 2009-10, the year of the H1N1 pandemic, four deaths occurred.
Health officials in Henry County also confirmed Tuesday that a 47-year-old Henry County woman died from the flu Jan. 6 in a Lucas County hospital. The woman, whose identity was not released, had underlying health conditions, said Julie Lauf, the department’s director of nursing.
A lab test confirmed she had the H1N1 strain of the virus.
Henry County reported 90 lab-confirmed flu cases or influenzalike illnesses from the beginning of flu season through the end of December. That compares to 134 such cases during the same period a year ago.
In northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan, nine people have died of flu-related causes this season.
There are months to go in this year’s flu season, raising concern among some health leaders.
“We are not in the throes of an epidemic. I think we are probably seeing a little higher than normal, and we are having a more serious flu season, but it is not an epidemic,” Dr. Grossman said.
What’s more disturbing to health officials is the re-emergence of the H1N1 strain this year.
The H1N1 flu virus caused a worldwide pandemic in 2009. Also called the swine flu, it affected millions of Americans and spread quickly, causing confusion and panic around the world.
Dr. Grossman announced Tuesday that his department is taking the unusual step of updating its Web site, lucascountyhealth.com, by 1 p.m. each day with information about flu hospitalizations and confirmed deaths and presumptive deaths.
He also said it is not too late to get a flu shot and the health department has scheduled an additional walk-in flu clinic at the 635. N. Erie Street location from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. The cost of an adult flu vaccination is $30.
There are some area health departments, however, that have run out of vaccine or reported dwindling stock.
The Findlay City Health Department started the flu season with about 1,000 shots for adults and children. It ran out of doses for children last week and has additional doses on order. Adult vaccine was depleted before that, and the department is directing adults to area pharmacies and other retailers.
The Hancock County Health Department, which serves those in the county outside Findlay, had just a handful of pediatric flu doses in stock Tuesday and no adult vaccine. It has administered more than 900 total doses, but the stock was depleted after recent media reports focused on the flu season.
In Fulton County, the health department has depleted its stock of regular adult vaccine, and has appointments scheduled that are expected to exhaust the remainder of its doses for those ages 65 and older. It has some children’s doses remaining and has requested more, Nursing Director Cindy Rose said.
Health departments in Henry, Wood, Ottawa, and Monroe counties still have vaccine.
The Ottawa County Health Department has vaccine for both adults and children. It will hold a clinic from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at 1856 E. Perry St., Port Clinton. Call 419-734-6800 to make an appointment.
The Lenawee County Health Department plans flu-shot clinics from 8 a.m. to noon Thursday, and from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 30, at 1040 S. Winter St., Adrian. Call 517-264-5226 to schedule an appointment.
Staff Writer Vanessa McCray contributed to this report.
Contact Marlene Harris-Taylor Marlene Harris-Taylor at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6091.