A prominent Springfield business man died last weekend after spending the previous month battling a flu virus that Clark County health officials said is sweeping across the area.
Douglas Gene Stevenson, 58, was told on Christmas Eve that he had contracted the H1N1 virus, according to his wife, Joy. She said her otherwise healthy husband started complaining of headaches on Dec. 21. He died Jan. 25 at the Cleveland Clinic.
“He didn’t even have a cavity,” Joy Stevenson said of her husband’s health history. “That’s what is so devastating for us.”
Doug Stevenson saw a doctor and was prescribed an antibiotic, but began having more trouble with his breathing. Joy Stevenson said her husband went to five different institutions in the month or so he battled the virus. He never got a flu shot, she said, and in hindsight she wishes he would have.
“He did not, and neither did any of our family,” she said. “If he did, we feel he would have had a better chance.”
Health Commissioner Charles Patterson said the oft-debated flu shot can only help.
“The H1N1 strain we’re seeing in this case is covered in the vaccine and we know the vaccine is at least 60 percent effective,” he said.
There have been 45 deaths in Ohio related to the H1N1 virus this flu season. In Clark County, 30 people have been hospitalized with influenza-associated symptoms in the month of January. That compares to only eight people hospitalized with similar symptoms last January.
“We’ve seen a statistically significant spike over the last five years,” Patterson said.
Two-thirds of the people hospitalized in Clark County were between the ages of 18 and 64.
“H1N1 can specifically strike people who have very strong immune systems because the immune system is involved in what happens to the lungs and then the pneumonia that occurs later on,” said Patterson.
Patterson said aside from the preventative vaccine, people should remember to take a full 20 seconds when washing their hands, and if they’re sick, they should isolate themselves and simply stay home from school or work.
For more than 25 years, Stevenson was the owner of Stevenson Utilities Construction LLC. His wife said he kept a busy schedule up until he first started complaining of headaches. He was a member of the Clark County Builders Association, the Clark County Chamber of Commerce, Dayton Building Association and the Associated Building Contractors.
“I had no idea (H1N1) could shut down your organs,” Joy Stevenson said. “It just takes over your body … I had no idea.”