A 29-year-old lawyer died of the flu on Tuesday, becoming the third victim in North Carolina alone so far this season.
After suffering from the flu for 10 days, Scarlett Levinson died of an apparent heart attack in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The flu season only officially begins in October, yet deaths are already being reported.
Already this year, an elderly person and one other person died in North Carolina before Levinson, who appeared active and to be in good health, though it is unclear if she had any underlying conditions.
Scarlett Levinson was just 29 and appeared healthy and active until she became sick with the flu and died of cardiac complications of the virus on Tuesday
Ahead of the flu season’s technical beginning this week, experts have anticipated that the US might be hit with a milder flu season this year than last.
Last year, more than 80,000 Americans died of the flu, driven by the deadly H3N2 marking the deadliest season in 40 years.
Elderly people and young children are particularly vulnerable to the virus, and their weaker immune systems mean they are also more liable to develop complications like pneumonia that can quickly turn deadly.
But in the most severe flu seasons, the illness can even kill young and middle aged people.
At just 29, Levinson falls far outside of the age groups that typically flood emergency rooms in the late fall and winter.
And there were few signs that the young attorney might become so sick so quickly.
Her husband, Lee Levinson, found her collapsed at their home in Raleigh after she had been jogging, Fox reported.
According to the outlet, Levinson eventually went to an urgent care, but after 10 days, the flu seemed to take a drastic toll on her.
An attorney at Levinson and Axford, Scarlett was young, married and at the beginning of a promising career
Experts think that inflammation from the immune system’s response to the flu can raise the risks of cardiovascular problems while sick with the virus.
In fact, one study, published in February found that flu may increase the risk of a heart attack by as much as 600 percent.
It isn’t clear if Levinson had any underlying conditions that the flu could have aggravated.
‘Scarlett was a valued and beloved member of our firms, remarkable for her generosity, wit and big heart,’ her law firm, Levinson and Axford wrote in a statement.
‘She will be missed by everyone at our firms, our families and the North Carolina community at large.’
The death of Levinson, a North Carolina school board member, Kathy Hartenstine and another elderly person in the state suggest that predictions about the flu may not play out – at least not in North Carolina.
Doctors there and across the nation are urging Americans that the single best thing to do to protect themselves, and especially vulnerable populations like the elderly and children – is to get the flu shot.