Childrens Health

11-Year-Old Queensland Girl’s Dies from Influenza B

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Cameron and Javi Schwab are living through every parent’s worst nightmare right now as they come to terms with the tragic and unexpected loss of their daughter, Emma. Emma was just 11 years old when she passed away from a common virus – influenza B – this week.

The Queensland girl, who lived in Noosa, was in hospital last week with the flu. However, she was released a short time later. Over the past week, her symptoms worsened and she died, despite the best efforts of paramedics.

“We would like to extend our sincere sympathies to the family during this extremely difficult time,” a Sunshine Coast Health spokesperson said on Wednesday.

“This experience is heartbreaking for everyone involved.”

Rapid rise of influenza B

While there are not too many details about Emma’s death, including when she first started to experience symptoms, it is known that she was diagnosed with influenza B.

This is a very common but potentially deadly virus that is quickly rising, especially in schools. Life-threatening complications from influenza B include serious heart, brain and muscle-related issues.

A GoFundMe for Emma has been set up by a family friend to help support the grieving parents through this unimaginably terrible time.

“Understandably the family is torn apart and any support would be greatly appreciated,” she wrote on the page.

So far 160+ people have come together to raise over $15,000 for Emma’s family. 

The second girl to die from Influenza B this week

Just last week another schoolgirl died from influenza B – a year 9 student from St Joseph’s Catholic College in New South Wales. It’s understood that the girl contracted the virus a few weeks ago but passed away over the weekend.

“She was a well-loved student, thoughtful to the needs of others, a true friend and a valued member of our college community,” a letter sent to the parents at the school read. “She will be missed.”

Across the nation, hospitals are recording excessive numbers of people requiring medical care for influenza B and expressing their concern over the low numbers of vaccinations.

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer John Gerrard has issued a plea for people to get vaccinated.

So far this year, Queensland has recorded 47,300 flu cases, including more than 3,800 people who required admission to hospital.

Dr Gerrard also said that this month alone 78 children aged six months to four years had been in hospital in Queensland with flu – 50 of them diagnosed with the B strain.

Only one of these children was vaccinated, he said.

Another 11 babies aged under six months have also been admitted to hospital this month with the flu, eight of them with influenza B.

“We are concerned about the return of school that we may see transmission of influenza B in schools in the coming weeks,” Dr Gerrard told the ABC.

“Influenza B is known to be associated with severe disease in children.”

Dr Gerrard also issued a warning for pregnant women:

“Pregnant women are particularly prone to severe influenza because pregnancy is a state of relative immunosuppression. Influenza vaccine is very safe to give during pregnancy. We know that.”

NSW Chief Paediatrician Matthew O’Meara echoed this notion about the importance of vaccination.

“We are seeing cases rise. We expect there to be more children with influenza and more children with complications of influenza, so now’s the time to do something about it.”

Influenza vaccines come as a single vaccine that covers several strains of the flu virus. At this stage the vaccine is free to children under 5 and pregnant women but many others qualify for the free vaccine as well.

Your vaccination provider can tell you which vaccine they will use for you or your child’s influenza vaccination.

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Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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