Flu Deaths 2018: Photos & Tributes to Those Who Died

katie oxley thomas, michael messenger, 2018 flu deaths, flu deaths

Facebook/obituary Katie Oxley Thomas and Michael Messenger died of the flu in different states.

Flu deaths in 2018 are making headlines because they’ve struck down people you’d think wouldn’t be in peril from such a common virus. Those who’ve died include a California woman who ran marathons, a fitness buff in Pennsylvania, and children in multiple states.

How many people have died from the flu in 2018? The most recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of January 17, 2018, reported that the flu season is particularly severe but there were more hospitalizations during the same time frame in 2014-2015.

“All U.S. states but Hawaii are reporting widespread flu activity,” reported the CDC. “Indicators used to track influenza-like-activity (ILI) are similar to what was seen during the peak of the 2014-2015 season, a season of high severity. The overall hospitalization rate is high also, but still lower than the overall hospitalization rate reported during the same week of the 2014-2015 season.”

According to the CDC, there have been at least 20 deaths of children so far from the flu during the 2017-2018 flu season. Seven of those deaths were reported in the first week of January 2018. The summary was last updated on January 12, 2018 by the CDC. According to Fox News, “California is being hit particularly hard, with reports of at least 27 deaths of people under the age of 65 in the state since October.” The network added that the virus in question is called Influenza A (H3N2).

On January 17, KKTV reported that a Colorado child under age 18 months had died of the flu and had not been vaccinated. The Mercury News recounts the unusualness of this flu season, reporting, “In every pocket of the continental United States, people are experiencing flu symptoms right now, the first time that has happened in the 13 years of the CDC’s current tracking system. And the death toll continues to climb, with more and more stories like the one from Clay Township, Michigan, where a 12-year-old Michigan boy died just 48 hours after showing flu-like symptoms that started with him vomiting during dinner.”

The flu is the country’s eighth highest cause of death. Heart disease is tops. The 2018 flu season may be twice as bad as last year’s, according to Fortune.

Here is a round up of some of those who have died in 2018 and late 2017:


Katie Denise Oxley Thomas, 40, California

katie oxley thomas

Katie Oxley Thomas

Thomas was a mother of three who was so active she ran marathons. Her loved ones were left shocked that she would die of something like the flu. “A mother of three from California, who was an avid runner and enjoyed being active, died within days of showing symptoms of influenza,” reported People Magazine.

She came down with a fever and sore throat and then went into septic shock, according to People, which reported that doctors “scanned her lungs and discovered she had pneumonia and they quickly placed her on a ventilator. Early the next morning, she went into septic shock.”

Thomas’ obituary reads, “Katie Oxley Thomas lost her life suddenly to acute organ failure resulting from pneumonia and flu. Katie’s exuberant spirit, warm heart, sharp wit, and loving disposition placed her at the center of hundreds of adoring friends and loved ones. Her unparalleled zest for life coupled with her compassion for others will continue to inspire the many lives she has touched.”


Michael Messenger, 12, Michigan

Michel Messenger, a boy from Clay Township, Michigan, died January 11 after developing flu-like symptoms, according to The Times Herald. His heartbroken mother wrote a lengthy message on Facebook:

As most of you may have already heard, my family and I, have had probably the absolute worst thing in the world happened to us.

I say this with the heaviest of hearts, Thursday morning, my youngest son Michael, gained his angel wings and was called to heaven.

This is absolutely an unexpected tragedy, we are completely lost and broken. We have no answers at this time as to what happen, but he was sick and was just seen by a dr for flu like symptoms. But was sent home with anti-nausea medication, and less than 12 hours later he was taken from us.

Michael was a very special little boy who, I think, his life’s mission was to make everyone laugh, and I can say, he did an amazing job at fulfilling that.

He was such a smart and talented little guy, who LOVED science and building things, especially with Legos! He had such a creative mind and could dream up some pretty awesome things.

He was such a snuggle bug who was pure and genuine and had a heart of gold.

No one or nothing can ever prepare a parent for something like this. I’m living the worst possible nightmare and can’t even see the light on the other side.

We are managing, but just barely. I have such an amazing family who haven’t left our sides. I truly don’t know where I’d be without them during this time.

His mother is now trying to raise alarm about the seriousness of this year’s virus. “Don’t wait, it’s all I can say. This flu or whatever is going around this year is unbelievably dangerous,” she said to the newspaper, which added that the boy who loved science and wanted to become an engineer had received a flu vaccine.


Nico Mallozzi, 10, Connecticut

Nico Mallozzi’s sudden death from flu has also sparked his mother to issue a warning to the community about the dangerous nature of this year’s season. “Nico Mallozi had never had a serious medical issue in his life. On Sunday, the vibrant, popular fourth-grader died of what at first seemed like a routine case of the virus — leaving his Connecticut community reeling,” reports Time Magazine.

A GoFundMe site has been organized to help Nico’s family. The message on it reads:

The Mallozzi family has just encountered a loss that no family should ever have to endure. Please join us in helping support the family as they cope with their unimaginable grief.

One of Nico’s coaches described him best: Nico’s sly little smile and charm have captivated, entertained and kept us on our toes. Our rink won’t be the same with out him. Nico was an amazing player, teammate and friend…. not to mention, a bit of jokester with a trademark smile.

Our hockey family is ready to rally around the Mallozzi family….as the rest of the 2007 Roughriders have been saying #NicoStrong. Each and every teammate will miss you dearly! Not to mention the parents that were often drafted to help lace up your skates over the years….we all wish we could help him lace them up one more time!

“Ten years of health,” Nico’s mother, Mimma Mallozzi, told Time Magazine. “The kid never had a problem. He was like an ox.”


Alani Murrieta, 20, Arizona

alani murrieta

Alani Murrieta

The 20-year-old mother of two died of the flu in November 2017. “Alani (Joie) passed away suddenly yesterday afternoon from the flu that turned into pneumonia. Our family is devastated that she is gone,” reads a GoFundMe site set up to help her family. She lived in Phoenix, Arizona.

“Alani was a beautiful loving mother just 20 years old with two young boys AJ 2 years old and JR 6 months old. We are trying to keep strong and make the necessary arrangements but need help with funds as her passing was completely unexpected. Any donated amount will be appreciated. Thank you RIP JOIE 5/14/97-11/28/17 Alani left behind so many people that loved her! Her Mother Christina Gonzales sisters Sandra Amador, Briana Gonzales and brother Andrew Murrieta. Her cousins Alissa Gonzales, Alexandria Gonzales , Christopher, Carlos and Adrianna and many more. We will all stay strong for her boys and always keep her memory alive .”


Kyler Baughman, 21, Pennsylvania

No one expected Kyler Baughman to die from the flu. He was in great shape and was young. Baughman was “a bodybuilder studying to become a personal trainer” who “soon developed a fever and felt other symptoms worsening. A trip to the emergency room days later led to Kyler being taken by helicopter to a larger hospital, where he died within 24 hours,” reports KVOA-TV.

He died of organ failure on December 28, 2017.


Katharine Gallagher, 27, California

Katharine Gallager was another young adult struck down by the flu. The Tustin, California woman “left work early on Friday, December 1, when she developed a fever, diarrhea, cold sweats, body aches and nausea. Five days later, she was dead,” according to People Magazine.

She was a college graduate who worked at a brewery, People reported.