3yo girl ‘ravaged’ by killer flu

AUSTRALIA'S deadly influenza outbreak has left a three-year-old girl partially paralysed in intensive care after she contracted the flu last month.

Hayley Henwood was "ravaged" by the flu virus then hit with a secondary infection that attacked her brain and left her "partially paralysed," Nine News reported.

The young girl now faces months of rehabilitation and physiotherapy as she learns to walk and talk for the second time in her short life.

Hayley Henwood now faces months of rehabilitation. Picture: Nine News
Hayley Henwood now faces months of rehabilitation. Picture: Nine News

The little girl was raced to the emergency department of Perth Children's Hospital after her mother, Emma, noticed she was displaying flu-like symptoms last month.

According to report, Hayley's case was so severe she suffered a secondary infection that attacked her brain.

This left her partially paralysed, unable to walk or talk, with doctors likening her functionality to that of a two-month-old baby.

Hayley's flu sparked a secondary infection in her brain. Picture: Nine News
Hayley's flu sparked a secondary infection in her brain. Picture: Nine News

Hayley spent four weeks in hospital and was discharged this week, with her mother saying the last month has been distressing for the entire family.

"It's certainly emotional, watching her go through it all over again, but she just takes it in her stride, which is awesome," Ms Henwood said.

Emma Henwood raced her daughter to hospital. Picture: Nine News
Emma Henwood raced her daughter to hospital. Picture: Nine News

According to Ms Henwood, her daughter's speech has been impacted, so her recovery time will be slow and steady.

"Talking to her is a little bit delayed," she said.

"She has to think about what she's saying, and asking her questions like 'What's wrong?' is a bit open-ended for her at the moment.

"You need to give her options."

Hayley has to learn to walk again. Picture: Nine News
Hayley has to learn to walk again. Picture: Nine News

Now home with her family, Hayley will have to undergo six weeks of intensive rehabilitation, which includes physiotherapy, to get her walking again.

She will also have brain scans to determine if her illness left her with any long-term damage.

"Unfortunately, we were one of the unlucky ones, and I just want to raise awareness of how serious (influenza) can be," Ms Henwood said.

She has six months of intensive rehabilitation ahead of her. Picture: Nine News
She has six months of intensive rehabilitation ahead of her. Picture: Nine News

Hayley's case comes as this season's flu crisis continues to spread across the nation, leaving a soaring death toll in its wake.

State and territory health departments are urging people to stay home if they feel unwell and book in for their flu vaccination.

The number of flu-related deaths has experienced a dramatic spike across the country, with at least 31 lives claimed in Victoria, 49 in NSW and 42 in South Australia so far.

According to Nine News, Perth Children's Hospital's emergency department has experienced a 30 per cent spike in flu-related admissions in recent weeks.

In WA, Health Department spokesman Andrew Robertson said vaccination rates for young children weren't as high as health experts would like.

"Unfortunately, our vaccination rates for those under five are still (low). They're better than last year, but they are still only sitting around 24 per cent," Dr Robertson said.

Hayley faces months of rehab. Picture: Nine News
Hayley faces months of rehab. Picture: Nine News