Euless man dies of swine flu; shares similarities with 'mystery illnesses' outside Houston

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on December 18, 2013 at 8:51 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 19 at 5:43 PM

EULESS -- Looking at photographs shown at her husband's funeral is so very hard for Ashley Wright.

"He was too young,” she said. "I should not be a widow at 30... So, it's pretty devastating."

Dustin Wright, 30, came down with flu-like symptoms just before Thanksgiving. Ashley said he seemed to be getting better, before taking a sudden turn for the worse.

"Every breath was a struggle for him,” she recalled. “Every single breath. And I woke him up at 11:30, and his lips were purple and his fingers were purple, and he was like a green color -- like he was just changing colors."

Ashley said she insisted they go immediately to the emergency room. Dustin was admitted to Baylor Grapevine on Nov. 25, placed on life support in the ICU, and strapped into a rotating bed that helps break up fluid in the lungs from pneumonia.

At first, flu tests were inconclusive.

"The second time they checked him, he came back positive for Influenza A, Influenza B,” Wright said.

Dustin suffered kidney failure, which has been associated with severe cases of H1N1 Type A, or swine flu. He had no known underlying medical conditions.

His case has many similarities to cases in Montgomery County that puzzled doctors this week. Of eight cases in that county, four patients have died.

Wednesday afternoon, Montgomery County health officials said one surviving patient tested positive for H1N1. Two other surviving patients tested negative for H1N1 and results are still pending for the fourth.

"So what we're doing now is we're retesting those patients who tested negative from the private lab," Montgomery County Medical Director Dr. Mark Escott said. "And those samples will be sent to the state and the CDC for confirmation testing."

The illnesses started with flu-like symptoms, then progressed to pneumonia and, in some cases, organ failure. They all initially tested negative for the flu.

The mother of one of the patients who died in Montgomery County, which is north of Houston, spoke to WFAA sister station KHOU Wednesday.

She said her son, Dathany Reed, wasn’t feeling well on Thanksgiving and went to see doctors, who sent him home with several prescriptions. He was admitted to the hospital’s emergency room the next day and ended up on life support. Dathany’s 41st birthday came and went on November 30 while his kidneys and other organs deteriorated.

Family members said goodbye to the father of three on Dec. 5, a week after he went to the emergency room.

Dustin Wright died 10 days after being admitted to the hospital.

He had not gotten a flu shot. H1N1 is one of the viruses included in this year's shot.

"I'll never look at this the same ever again for sure,” Ashley said. “Always just get your flu shot, because you never know."

Adult influenza deaths do not need to be reported to the county health department, so precise numbers of North Texas deaths from influenza are unknown. Pediatric deaths, by law, must be reported.

Children and pregnant women were more susceptible to serious complications from H1N1 swine flu during the outbreak in 2009.

Dustin Wright was 30 years old. He leaves behind a wife who loves him, and a 9-year-old son he called his "best friend."

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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