Little girl learning to walk again after contracting the deadly flu virus
Three-year-old Hayley Henwood is learning how to walk and talk again, after contracting the deadly influenza virus last month.
The toddler suffered a secondary infection that attacked her brain, leaving her partially paralysed and doctors say she is similar to a two-month-old baby.
"Talking to her is a bit delayed she has to think about what she is saying. Questions like what's wrong is a bit open ended for her at the moment, you need to give her options," her mother Emma Henwood said.
Hayley spent time in the intensive care unit at Perth Children's Hospital before being discharged today and now faces a long road to recovery.
The three-year-old faces six weeks of intense physiotherapy before scans to determine if there is long-term damage.
"It's certainly emotional watching her go through it all again but she just takes it in her stride which is awesome," Mrs Henwood said.
Like so many others, Hayley's family didn't expect this early start to the flu-season.
"Unfortunately, our vaccination rates for those under five are still, they're better than last year, but they are still only sitting around 24 per cent," Dr Andrew Robertson of the WA Health Department said.
Now the Health Minister Roger Cook is taking drastic action to stop the outbreak, lowering the age restriction on pharmacy administered flu-shots from adults to children as young as 10.
"We want to make sure that everyone has the maximum opportunity to get themselves vaccinated," Minister Cook said.
The Australian Medical Association is calling for more hospital beds to be opened, with concerns the peak of the flu-season typically in the months of August and September.
"If we open extra beds in the main hospital and that frees up beds in the emergency department," Dr Omar Khorshid said.
The Health Minister said the emergency departments are coping with the increase in patients presenting to the emergency department.
"The ED's are coping well we are still getting numbers that exceed other states and we are no orphans here, every state is suffering from an intense flu season," Minister Cook said.
The Health Department is urging people to consult their doctor before presenting to emergency departments.
More than 9,000 West Australians have tested positive for the virus and 29 people have died during this year's flu-season so far.
"Get yourself vaccinated, make sure that you practise good hygiene and stay away from work or school if you are suffering from flu-like symptoms," said Minister Cook.
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