Young woman dies of flu, mother urges flu shots

BAKERSFIELD, CALIF. (KBAK/KBFX) It's flu season, and this year the particularly aggressive strain of the virus known as H1N1 is sweeping the nation.

Kern county has reported more than 30 flu-related hospitalizations this year and two deaths. Out of those, only one of the patients had received the vaccine.

April Dunlap, 30, who was otherwise healthy, was a recent college graduate. She had attended California State University, Bakersfield and majored in art history.

On Dec. 9, Dunlap was at work when she fell ill and collapsed. She went home sick, and two days later visited a medical clinic for treatment. She was initially diagnosed and treated for pneumonia but went back after her condition didn't improve.

A week following her collapse at work, her family took her to Kern Medical Center, where she was eventually diagnosed with the H1N1 virus.

Doctors and nurses at KMC treated Dunlap with breathing treatments and antibiotics and tried an experimental drug used in another part of the country.

Nothing worked.

In the early hours of Jan. 7, Dunlap's body was too weak to fight anymore.

"All of a sudden, her blood pressure went so low, and she was gone," said Traci Rueda, Dunlap's mother.

"Parents are not supposed to bury their children," said Rueda.

Now, Rueda is trying to spread the word about the importance of getting a flu shot. She said perhaps if April had received the vaccine, they wouldn't be planning her funeral.

"It could've prevented her death," the grieving mother said. "That's the only thing."