Flu that claimed the life of Australian toddler 'spread like wildfire'

The death of a toddler in western Australia has highlighted the potential dangers of flu season.

The parents of Elijah Huynh, 2, watched on helplessly as their son quickly succumbed to an Influenza A virus that's already caused the deaths of 228 Australians this year.

A GoFundMe page set up to help the family deal with the loss of their son describes how fast the virus took hold.

"The devastating effects of the Influenza A virus spread like wildfire overnight and without any warning signs. 

"A valiant effort by the crew at Karratha Health Campus, Royal Flying Doctors and Perth Children's Hospital kept him around long enough for his immediate family to be with him, but in the end there wasn't anything done that could have saved him."  

The page included a heartbreaking black and white photograph of one of Elijah's final moments with his family.

Elijah Huynh
Elijah Huynh. Photo credit: GoFundMe/InMemoryOfElijahHuynh

It is estimated that in New Zealand around 500 people die due to the flu every year with the vast majority of those deaths affecting people over the age of 65.

There are fears that the pandemic currently affecting Australia could easily become a problem for New Zealand too.

Dr Nikki Turner, the Immunisation Advisory Centre director, said: "There's only a bit of water between us and Australia, someone just needs to carry a respiratory illness on a plane and it will spread around NZ."

Vaccinations this year are even more urgent. But there's good news for those who act.

"We're seeing the same kinds of flu as they're seeing in Australia. Currently the flu strains are well matched by the vaccine we're using at the moment," said Dr Turner.


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