WATERBURY, CT (WFSB) – The death of a 28-year-old Waterbury teacher has put the state on notice.

In this case, the teacher’s family did say she was diabetic.

Channel 3 is looking deeper into this and other health issues that could be fatal if combined with the flu.

Harley Gaafar was an ESL (English as a second language) teacher at West Side Middle School. She has an underlying health issue, diabetes, which is common across the country.

Gaafar died last week from complications from the flu.

Dr. Virginia Bieluch says there are several health conditions that can really make the flu potentially deadly. She says heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes are the top three, as well as certain medications.

"Our immune system may not work as well if our blood sugars aren't controlled, so diabetes is a significant underlying condition," Dr. Bieluch said. 

If anyone has Lupus or psoriatic arthritis and are taking medication for it, that could put people at risk who have the flu.

Dr. Bielich is the Chief of Infectious Disease at the Hospital of Central Connecticut and she uses rheumatoid arthritis as an example.

“Someone who has a severe immunological disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, often takes a medication that is beneficial for the rheumatoid arthritis, but it can weaken the immune system when it comes to fighting infections,” Dr. Bielich said.

Doctors say one of the best ways to prevent the flu is getting the flu shot, and unless someone has had a bad reaction to one, doctors say there;s no health condition that wouldn't allow for it. 

Many places like AFC Urgent Care in New Britain offer no-cost flu shots and doctors say even now, it’s not too late to get one.

To find out where to get a flu vaccine, click here.

Copyright 2019 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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(1) comment


Gone too young, RIP dear soul.

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