A heartbroken paediatrician who is the family friend of two-year-old flu-victim Sienna has hit out against online trolls questioning if her parents did enough, saying the tragedy could ‘happen to anyone’.
When the Sydney toddler contracted the powerful influenza A strain N1-H1 her mother took her to the GP but once she got her home realised her health was rapidly deteriorating.
Sienna’s concerned mother called their family friend and paediatrician Kathy Carmo, who says she instantly sensed something was wrong.
Paediatrician Kathy Carmo (pictured) is a family friend of Sydney flu-victim Sienna, 2
Sienna, 2, (pictured) died after contracting the influenza A strain N1-H1
‘This could happen to any mum, she’s a great mum and has great intuition. She rang me last Saturday Sienna just had a fever and was a bit lethargic – just like lots of toddlers around the country at this time,’ Kathy said.
‘I could just sense she thought there was something going on and she said Sienna’s heart beat is racing – which is a concerning sensation for a mother.’
‘The ambulance and Westmead worked really well but unfortunately when the flu virus gets in and attacks the brain, that’s it.
Within 24-hours Sienna passed away.
The comments made online, about Sienna’s death have lumped blame on her parents and questioned why they didn’t do more.
Dr Carmo says not only are these comments completely abhorrent, they’re also untrue.
WHAT IS THE H1N1 STRAIN OF FLU?
H1N1 flu is commonly known as swine flu. It was given that name because in the past the people who caught it had direct contact with pigs.
That changed after a new virus emerged that spread amongst people who hadn’t contracted it through contact with pigs.
It is caught in the same way as seasonal flu. When people who are infected cough or sneeze they spray tiny drops of the virus into the air and onto surfaces.
Individuals who come into contact with these germs can then easily contract H1N1 swine flu.
People who have it can spread it one day before they have any symptoms and as many as 7 days after they get sick.
Kids can be contagious for as long as 10 days.
The best way to prevent catching the strain is to get vaccinated against it. A seasonal influenza vaccination is available for anyone aged 6 months and over to protect against influenza and the H1N1 strain.
In NSW it is free for children between six months and five years old.
Symptoms of swine flu include coughs, chills, and aches, similar to seasonal flu.
Like the regular flu, swine flu can lead to more serious problems including pneumonia, lung infection and other breathing problems.
SOURCE: NSW Government
‘There’s currently a lot of trolling going on about how it’s the families’ fault and that is absolutely not the case.’
She says the message that needs to be at the forefront of the tragedy is that to protect against the flu, the whole community needs to be vaccinated.
‘Only 20 per cent of kids around the state are vaccinated even though the vaccination has been free since April,’ she said.
‘It is a very powerful strain and my message would be, if you’re sick don’t go to work, sneeze into your elbows and everybody should be vaccinated.
‘I know there have been shortages of the vaccine in some places, the most vulnerable people need to be vaccinated first and then we need the whole community to be vaccinated.
Her mother took her to the GP before she was rushed the hospital where her condition quickly deteriorated
‘To fight the flu the whole community need to be vaccinated against it.’
The H1N1 strain of influenza is also known as swine flu. In 2009 it spread across the world causing the World Health Organization to label it as a pandemic.
During the outbreak, as many as 1,600 Australians died as a result, and last year 103,000 cases of influenza were reported.
The virus hit its peak in August with 48,600 reported illnesses across all strains.
Confirmed cases are people that present at medical centres or hospitals, and represent only a portion of illness in the community.
The New South Wales State Government this year kicked off its free flu jab for children between six months and five years and has been pushing it with a state wide campaign since January to avoid similarly high numbers this year.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for Sienna’s grieving family.