Lethbridge Herald

Influenza claims Manitoba teen


A high school student has died in Manitoba where there has been a spike in flu cases this winter.

Blaine Ruppenthal, a 17year-old Grade 12 student, died of complicati­ons from influenza, said a letter sent to parents Monday by the principal of Kelvin High School in Winnipeg.

“We are shocked and deeply saddened by the news of his passing,” principal Maria Silva wrote.

Health officials, citing privacy laws, would not comment on whether

Ruppenthal had any preexistin­g medical conditions.

Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, said that while flu vaccine campaigns are aimed primarily at seniors, the very young and people with chronic health conditions, the flu can strike anyone.

“We do see, for the most part, the severe outcomes occur in those at the extremes of ages or those with underlying medical conditions,” Roussin said Tuesday.

“But unfortunat­ely we do sometimes see healthy individual­s have severe outcomes due to the flu.”

Statistics from Manitoba Health show one other person has died and more than 30 have been hospitaliz­ed due to flu since September. Five of the hospitaliz­ed patients were placed in intensive care units.

The department said the number of people visiting emergency rooms due to respirator­y issues in the last week of 2019 was the highest in three years.

A recent memo issued to staff in the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said this year is unusual in that three viruses — influenza A, influenza B and respirator­y syncytial virus, or RSV — have been peaking at roughly the same time.

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