Flu fears drive hospital vis­its

Canning Gazette - - NEWS - Carmelle Wilkin­son

WA’S hor­ror flu sea­son is cre­at­ing a cul­ture of fear among par­ents.

The ris­ing death toll from this year’s “killer” flu had caused a surge in the num­ber of chil­dren pre­sent­ing to Perth Chil­dren’s Hospital in the past month.

Fig­ures from the Depart­ment of Health show more than 4300 chil­dren were rushed to emer­gency de­part­ments around Perth be­tween June 23 and July 7 but only 447 were ad­mit­ted.

Thorn­lie mum Candice Sullivan said she rushed her mid­dle child to Perth Chil­dren’s Hospital af­ter her son fell ill sud­denly.

“He had a high tem­per­a­ture, headache, and was lethar­gic and pale so we im­me­di­ately took him to hospital,’’ she said.

“Thank­fully it turned out to be a mi­nor virus, but my feel­ing is that I’d rather be safe than sorry.”

So far this year, 43 per cent of chil­dren aged be­tween six months and five years had re­ceived the in­fluenza vac­ci­na­tion com­pared to just 15.1 per cent chil­dren last year.

Pae­di­a­tri­cian and in­fec­tious dis­eases re­searcher Peter Rich­mond, from the Telethon Kids In­sti­tute, said the news head­lines about the seem­ingly high num­ber of life-threat­en­ing cases of flu this win­ter had been hard to miss.

“It’s im­pos­si­ble to hide from the germs and nasty bac­te­ria that cir­cu­late through­out win­ter but the first and best line of de­fence is hav­ing the flu vac­cine,” Pro­fes­sor Rich­mond said. “The younger you are, the higher the risk of be­ing hos­pi­talised and af­fected by the dev­as­tat­ing com­pli­ca­tions of flu.

“This is be­cause the first exposure to the virus is most likely to lead to in­fec­tion, strik­ing when the im­mune sys­tem is still de­vel­op­ing strength.”

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