US & Canada

US teacher dies after opting out of 'costly' flu medicine

Heather Holland, 38 Image copyright Weatherford Independent School District
Image caption Heather Holland, 38, died from flu complications

A US school teacher has died from flu complications after deciding to forgo anti-viral medication because it "costs too much", her husband told US media.

Mother-of-two Heather Holland, 38, had taught at a Texas school before her death last Sunday.

As her symptoms worsened, her husband bought the Tamiflu drug for $116 (£84) a day before she went to hospital.

Tamiflu's manufacturers say it can prevent flu, though there is some debate over its effectiveness.

Experts think the current flu outbreak as bad as the 2009 swine flu outbreak.

"It just sounded like her throat was scratchy" at first, her husband Frank Holland, told the Wall Street Journal, before her symptoms worsened throughout the week.

Doctors prescribed medication, but she chose not to purchase it, according to her husband.

"It's principle with her. She's a very frugal person in general, always has been," Mr Holland told the Weatherford Democrat newspaper.

She was placed on dialysis on Saturday, but died on Sunday morning, he said.

"I have to be strong for the kids but it's still surreal, it hasn't all set in," Mr Holland said.

"We've been together a long time, over half my life. She's my best friend, my soulmate, my everything," Mr Holland said.

A spokeswoman for the Weatherford Independent School District, where Mrs Holland worked, said that the school is mourning her loss and have been deep-cleaning school campuses since December.

Schools across the country have closed for decontamination as federal medical officials warn that this year's flu strain is having a particularly deadly effect - especially on children.

Experts predict that the flu kills an average of 12,000 to 56,000 Americans every year, and expect the death toll to be in the upper end of that range this year.

All Americans are encouraged by officials to receive a flu vaccination, which remains the best method of prevention.

You can find additional advice and information on the flu here.

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