Brother of San Diego City Councilman Mark Kersey dies of H1N1 flu

SAN DIEGO - San Diego City Councilman Mark Kersey issued a plea Friday for people to get flu shots, as he revealed that his 37-year-old brother died in Pennsylvania of the H1N1 influenza strain.

Bradley Nolan Kersey, who died Monday at a hospital, was a resident of Avella, Penn., near Pittsburgh.

On his Twitter page, the councilman wrote that his brother "passed away from the H1N1 flu. Please PLEASE get a flu shot."

It's important to get vaccinated in order to protect one's family, the councilman told City News Service, speaking from Pennsylvania. He said his brother did not get a flu shot.

"It's unknown whether a shot might have saved him, but it could have helped," he said.

Kersey, who represents northeastern portions of San Diego, told CNS that he took a red-eye flight to Pennsylvania on Sunday night, several days after his sibling was hospitalized, and will be at his brother's funeral on Saturday.

Influenza is widespread across the country, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the San Diego region, 20 people have died during this flu season, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency. Most had underlying medical conditions or were very elderly, according to the agency, but doctors say this season's flu season is hitting younger people harder than past years.

"He was relatively healthy," Kersey said of his brother. "He could have stood to lose a few pounds, but nothing that should have brought him down so quickly, like this did."

According to his newspaper obituary, Brad Kersey was a mechanic for a contracting firm and married to his high school sweetheart. The couple had four children.

Brad and Mark Kersey also have two sisters.

The councilman's tweet listed a link for a fund to support his brother's family, at http://www.gofundme.com/6l9m8o.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer, said it's not too late to get a flu shot.

The vaccine offers protection against the Pandemic H1N1, Influenza A H3N2 and Influenza B strains. It takes about two weeks for immunity to develop after getting vaccinated.

The flu vaccine is available at doctors' offices and retail pharmacies. Those without medical insurance can go to a county public health center to get vaccinated. A list of locations is available online at www.sdiz.org or by calling 211.

Health officials suggest that in addition to getting vaccinated, people should wash their hands thoroughly and often, use hand sanitizers and avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth. They should also stay away from ill people, clean commonly touched surfaces and remain home when sick.

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