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SALT LAKE CITY — We're at the peak of the flu season right now and five Utahns have already died of the flu in 2014. After seeing a KSL report, a newly wedded Utah woman made her sick husband go to the hospital to get checked out — and now he's in the Intensive Care Unit fighting for his life.
"He got sick on New Year's Eve," said Joy Blatchford. "Just regular flu symptoms, cough, headache, nausea, aches and pains, fever."
Blatchford's husband, Chris, has been at University Hospital for the past week. He's among 468 Utahns to be hospitalized with the flu.
State health officials expect 10 to 15 more by the time they release new numbers tomorrow. Officials say 25 percent of those hospitalized end up in the ICU.
"We're just hoping he can stay strong," Blatchford said. "He's in and out of induced coma."
Blatchford, a Research Grants Officer, has been trying to hold it together as her husband lies in critical condition. Chris Blatchford is an accountant. The pair met working at a chain restaurant while in college. They'll celebrate their one year anniversary Feb. 1.
Her husband has gone from a man who loves fishing, skiing, kayaking, and bike riding to not "even (responding) to squeezes or anything," Blatchford said.
I had no idea my healthy, strong, amazing husband could be fighting for his life over something … as common as the flu.
Five Utahns have died from the illness this year, from the H1N1 strain that was last widespread in 2009. Dr. Russell Vinik with University Hospital said the strain is hitting the young and healthy the hardest — like Chris, who's only 26 years old.
"Usually the most serious consequence is respiratory infections," Vinik said. "Pneumonias or can create a bad infection and then predispose people for pneumonia. And that can have serious even life threatening consequences."
It's not too late to get a flu shot, he added.
"If it doesn't prevent you from getting the flu, it still can help diminish the severity of the illness that you get, and maybe the duration that you're ill," Vinik said.
Blatchford urges all Utahns who can to get the flu shot.
"Your loved ones deserve this. It's a simple preventative measure," she said.
Blatchford hopes her husband will be on the road to recovery by their one year anniversary next month.
"I received the flu vaccine and he did not and that's the reason I'm sitting here and he's upstairs fighting for his life," Blatchford said.
Doctors give her husband a 50-50 chance of pulling through. For now, family members have established a Wells Fargo account, the *"Chris Blatchford Donation Account" to help with medical expenses.