Sonoma County 23-Year-Old is Latest Bay Area Flu Death

A report identified the victim as 23-year-old Matthew "Matty" Walker of Santa Rosa.

KPIX5 video preview.
KPIX5 video preview.
A Sonoma County resident is among the growing number of recent Bay Area flu deaths, officials announced Thursday.

A 23-year-old who was previously healthy died from an H1N1 flu infection, interim Sonoma County Health Officer Karen Holbrook said in a press release.

KPIX5 identified the man as Santa Rosa resident Matthew "Matty" Walker, a Forestville native, and said he died on Wednesday.

His father told the TV station his son was initially treated for double pneumonia, and doctors induced a coma once the virus hit.

“Young people – they’re all powerful – but something can catch ‘em like this, they’re laying themselves open for possible serious consequences,” Cliff Walker told KPIX5.

Holbrook offered condolences in the press release.

"Our deepest sympathies go out to the family," she was quoted as saying. “While the vast majority of cases of flu have mild or moderate illness, sadly this tragic death reminds all of us that influenza can be a very serious illness.”

A total of 10 Bay Area residents have died from the flu so far this season. The H1N1 strain spreading across the area is similar to the so-called "swine flu" that led to a pandemic in 2009-2010, according to health officials.

Sonoma County officials offered these tips to protect yourself from the H1N1 flu virus:
  • Get your flu vaccine. It is still widely available at health care facilities and local pharmacies.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.  Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. Parents should set a good example by washing their own hands frequently.
  • Cover your cough, nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Avoid spreading germs by not touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Try to avoid close contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Do not go to work or send children to school while ill. If sick, stay home at least 24 hours after being free of fever (100° F [37.8°C]), or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications like Tylenol or Advil.

richard vandenbrul January 11, 2014 at 10:56 AM
This young mans death is very sad. I feel for his family. My father and his twin brother were born in 1918. Their Belgium mother refused all visitors who wanted to see her twins. This was at the height of the "Spanish Flu" or influenza. Her sisters husband would die at age 27 a few months later. Her sister was left a widow with small children. Encourage all to get their flu shots. This death may have been preventable.


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