FORT JACKSON, SC (WIS) - An autopsy has revealed a young Fort Jackson solider died from pneumonia due to swine flu three weeks ago.
Authorities say 23-year-old Specialist Christopher Hogg was in his fifth week of training when he became ill.
Spc. Hogg was admitted to Palmetto Health Richland Memorial Hospital on September 3 with fever and respiratory problems. Spc. Hogg died at around 9pm that day.
"There's probably no more stressful situation than basic training at an army camp," remarked Dr. Helmut Albrecht, who says the high stress of basic training and possible underlying genetic conditions could have contributed to Hogg's death.
Hogg, who was from Deltona, Florida, was in his fifth week of training with D Company, 3rd Battalion 13th Infantry Regiment, which was scheduled to graduate Oct 15.
"We just simply don't know why this affected him the way it did, but it is tragic," said Brigadier General Brad May, commanding officer of the fort.
Officials at the fort say they have begun to take precautions to prevent the spread of the flu, such as rearranging the barracks to create more breathing room for soldiers, checking new recruits for flu-like symptoms and isolating those who are sick.
"When the new recruits come in one of the first things that we do is try and identify if anybody has any flu-like symptoms, and if they do, then they will be moved to receive the appropriate medical care," said Brig. Gen. May.
The fort has already started to give out seasonal flu vaccines and will administer the H1N1 vaccine as soon as they arrive in October.
As soon as he received Spc. Hogg's autopsy results, Brig. Gen. May called his family.
Now he wants to reassure the families of other recruits by giving his command leadership a direct order.
"To have their soldiers over the next 48 hours to contact their family members," said Brig. Gen. May, "whether it's their parent, spouse, to call them, to reassure them and let them know that they're fine and that they have received lots if instruction on how to prevent the spread of the disease."
The general also said no more shaking hands -- instead, it's the fist bump.
So what do you do if you get sick and cannot leave your home? In this case, the best defense is a good offense.
"It's really important to start planning ahead and to have these items in your house as a stockpile. There may be shortages of certain supplies, so it's important to start stockpiling some of these items," says nurse Kay Aaby.
Some ideas? Your kit should include fluids with electrolytes like Gatorade and Powerade, fever reducers with ibuprofen or acetaminophen as well as cough and cold medication.
It should also include items to prevent spreading the flu virus -- like sanitizer and face masks. And like all emergency kits, make sure you have plenty of water and about two weeks worth of foods that won't spoil.