Jason Duaine Hahn
January 5, 2018
“Shawn is a great man, he’s a stubborn, big-hearted softie that has a hard exterior,” Jennifer says of Burrough, a U.S. Navy veteran who fought in the Gulf War who she has been with for 17 years. “But he’s all mush on the inside.”A father of four from Southern California is in a fight for his life after he contracted influenza during an intense flu season that has put stress on many of the nation’s hospitals as their emergency rooms continue to fill up with patients experiencing symptoms.
Shawn Burrough, 48, is now heavily sedated and breathing with the help of a ventilator at Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, California, after first showing signs of influenza over the Christmas holiday.
“His symptoms were a cough, body aches, runny nose, congestion, low-grade fever—typical symptoms,” his wife, Jennifer Burroughs, 36, of Lakeside, California, tells PEOPLE. “Things got worse about day five when he said his chest was tightening and he said it was hard for him to get his breath.”
On Dec. 30, Burrough went to urgent care, where doctors prescribed ibuprofen and an inhaler and advised him to rest. Yet, because he is the sole provider for his four children, Burrough—an aerospace quality assurance inspector—felt compelled to continue working as his health worsened. On New Year’s Day, Jennifer found her husband on the couch in their living room rocking back and forth struggling to breathe.
Jennifer took her husband to the emergency room, where doctors discovered Burrough had contracted influenza type-B and was experiencing renal failure. Additionally, his white blood cell count was high and he had a severe case of pneumonia.
More than 36,000 people die and more than 200,000 are hospitalized each year in the United States because of the flu, and since the virus can sometimes lead to pneumonia, it becomes increasingly deadly. According to the CDC, the flu and pneumonia combination was the eighth leading cause of death in 2016.
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