Rosie, 8, dies from the flu
Hospitals struggle amid 'horrific' flu season, as Rosie's father Christian Brealey mourns his 'loving little angel'. Vision courtesy: Channel 7's Sunrise.
A 'devastated' father has described the loss of his eight-year-old daughter to the flu in Melbourne.
Rosie's father Christian Brealey, of Upper Ferntree Gully, thanked the public for their support, describing his daughter as his 'loving little angel'.
"We are devastated by the loss of our beautiful, loving little angel," Mr Brealey said in a statement released to News Corp.
An online fundraising page has been set up to raise money for the family. It has so far raised about $2500.
Mr Brealey and his family regularly attend off-road Jeep events, with Rosie also involved in Cub Scouts and martial arts. She was preparing to attend Victoria's Cuboree at Gembrook in the second week of school holidays.
Instead, Rosie died at Angliss Hospital in Upper Ferntree Gully in Melbourne's outer-east on Friday.
Mr Brealey encouraged other families to immunise their children against the flu.
Friends of the family have paid tribute to them online.
"The family has suffered a loss this week, losing their precious Rosie to a simple flu in Melbourne," a friend and fellow Jeep enthusiast James Bailey wrote.
"We know this would break the biggest and baddest of men."
Another friend, Karlee Code, wrote: "There really are no words, but please know that you are all in our hearts and we are sending you so much love, we are just so incredibly sorry."
Jacinta Anderson wrote: "I wish I could take your heartbreaking pain away - we love you and will be here to support you in any way we can. RIP beautiful princess Rosie."
The girl's death follows that of young father Ben Ihlow on Father's Day.
The deadly strain of flu has killed at least 97 people in Victoria, including 95 in aged-care facilities, so far this year.
Hospitals struggle amid 'horrific' flu season
Public hospitals are scrambling to cope with the influx of patients, cancelling some elective surgery and making arrangements with private facilities to house the overflow of patients.
Additional ambulances had been introduced to meet the increased number of callouts.
Many health workers, including those who had been vaccinated, had also been hit.
"We are having a horrific flu season," Health Minister Jill Hennessy told 3AW radio.
"This is an influenza strain that is able to impact the young, the elderly, the well and the unwell."
Ms Hennessy, who hosted talks about this year's flu crisis with experts on Monday, said flu cases had doubled or even tripled across the eastern states.
In Victoria, the number of laboratory-confirmed cases had doubled and it was not known if the season had reached its peak, she said.
"We are dealing with a horror flu season and we're not quite sure when or where it will finish," Ms Hennessy said.
"Every day we all beg for advice that we may have peaked and then we see things drop off a bit and then them escalate again."
She urged Victorians not to dismiss flu symptoms as "simply a cold" or "'man flu'".
"Get to the doctor, call Nurse on Call, call an ambulance if you feel someone is very unwell. But don't ignore the flu symptoms," Ms Hennessy said.
"It needs to be taken seriously."
13,000 Victorians struck down by flu
More than 160,000 people have contracted the flu in Australia so far this year, Health Department figures show, compared with 75,818 recorded cases for the same time last year.
In Victoria, there have been just over 13,000 cases.
The Royal Children's Hospital treated a total of 290 confirmed flu cases up to September 14, an increase of 126 on the same period last year.
Monash Children's Hospital has treated 247 children for flu since June 1 at its Clayton, Dandenong and Casey hospitals.
It is estimated that flu contributes to more than 3000 deaths in Australia each year.
The total death toll in Victoria remains unknown, as hospitals and doctors are not required to notify the department of flu-related deaths that take place elsewhere.
There have been at least 97 deaths from the flu in 2017. Australian Bureau of Statistics show 2015 had previously been the state's worst year for flu deaths, with 57 recorded. (Figures for 2016 are not yet available.)
The health department is unable to say what strain of flu the girl died from, for privacy reasons.
The Angliss Hospital has also declined to comment.
The Education Department said it was in contact with the girl's school to offer support to anyone affected by her death.
"The death of any child is tragic and our thoughts are with the family of this student," a spokeswoman said.
Death a reminder of flu danger
Authorities say the girl's death should remind the public how dangerous influenza is.
People are being advised to get the influenza vaccine (especially if they are considered vulnerable to the virus), practice good hand hygiene and cover their mouth when they cough.
Those who are sick should not go to work, and ill children should be kept away from school, a department spokesman said.