Flu patient dies at Everett hospital, second in region

Twin brothers from Camano Island remain in the intensive care unit of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, three weeks after first being hospitalized for swine flu.

Steve Wolfe has been removed from a ventilator and was awake but weak Thursday, his mother, Carla Wolfe, said. He may be transferred out of the intensive care unit today, she said.

His brother, Mike Wolfe, remains on the ventilator and “is still very serious,” she said.

The brothers, 31, are two of five people being treated at the Everett hospital for influenza Thursday, said spokeswoman Cheri Russum.

Meanwhile, Snohomish County has recorded its first influenza death this flu season.

A 52-year-old man died at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Tuesday from the flu, although it was not H1N1 influenza, also known as swine flu, Russum said.

The man had unspecified underlying health conditions and had recently lived in both Lynnwood and Everett, said Suzanne Pate, Snohomish Health District spokeswoman.

He is the second person in Snohomish or Island counties to die of influenza this year.

Will Gardner, a 34-year-old Camano Island man, died March 10 of swine flu. The well-known coach and board member with Stanwood-Camano Youth Football was Island County’s first influenza death this year.

Island County has had four people hospitalized with swine flu since Feb. 22, said Dr. Roger Case, health officer for the Island County Health Department. The most recent occurred Thursday afternoon, a 51-year-old man from Whidbey Island who was hospitalized in Anacortes.

More than 30 people have been admitted to hospitals in Snohomish County with the flu since January.

The Wolfe brothers are 1998 graduates of Stanwood High School. They had been living temporarily with their grandparents on Camano Island, said their father, Don Wolfe.

Both sons had become sick with flu-like symptoms for about a week. A doctor told the men that if they got any worse, they should be hospitalized.

Steve Wolfe was hospitalized March 4. Mike Wolfe was hospitalized the next day.

Reports of people becoming sick with influenza have climbed steadily since mid-February, after a winter of marked by a relatively mild flu season.

Influenza normally hits Washington the hardest in January and February. This year, the uptick in cases occurred a little later, with the illness hitting its peak during the first week of spring.

Both Wolfe sons were active in sports at Stanwood High School. Steve Wolfe played baseball and Mike Wolfe played golf.

Both attended Skagit Valley College. Steve Wolfe was recruited to play baseball for the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D. His brother went to Alaska for a job, his father said.

Their parents believe that neither son had gotten a flu shot.

“We’re seeing our sons in the condition they are in and it’s very hard,” their father said. “I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through that … We’re hoping more people get the flu shot.”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com

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