Six-year-old Billy was full of life and energy before he went down with a flu last month and died after hospital treatment failed, Ming Pao Daily reports.
Before he got sick, he had a clean bill of health but he did not receive seasonal influenza vaccine.
The boy was admitted to the Yan Chai Hospital on April 10 with symptoms of fever, coughing and seizures and was transferred to the Paediatrics Intensive Care Unit of the Princess Margaret Hospital the next day.
He was diagnosed with encephalitis caused by the influenza A virus, and he passed away after 12 days of treatment, becoming the third case of child’s death caused by seasonal flu.
District Councillor Roy Kwong Chun-yu of the Democratic Party, acting on behalf of the boy’s parents, asked the concerned hospitals to produce all the boy’s medical reports concerning his confinement and treatment.
Kwong suspected that errors were made amid the excessive work pressure on frontline medical personnel at government hospitals during peak flu seasons.
In its announcement on the boy’s condition as of April 11, the Department of Health said the boy had been to mainland China between March 30 and April 5 and tested positive for influenza A.
Yan Chai Hospital said in a statement on Thursday night that the boy arrived at the emergency and accidents unit around 9 p.m. on April 10, and he was given a hospital bed at around 10 p.m.
He was transferred to Princess Margaret the next day after encephalitis was diagnosed.
Dr. Alvin Chan Yee-shing, vice-president of the Hong Kong Medical Association, said the influenza A virus could be lethal after getting into a patient’s brain and heart.
Chan said the risk of the influenza A virus triggering encephalitis is about 1:10,000.
He also pointed out that it is best to prescribe Tamiflu within 24 to 48 hours after a patient is diagnosed with influenza A, as the effects of the antiviral medication would be diminished as time passed.
Chan said it is important to understand when the boy started developing symptoms of encephalitis, as treatment could be difficult.
According to Apple Daily, Billy’s mother had repeatedly requested Tamiflu be given to her child the night he was admitted to Yan Chai Hospital. However, the doctors turned down her request.
Pediatrician Wilson Fung Yee-leung said it could be too late if Tamiflu was given to the boy nine hours after he was hospitalized, as the virus might have already got into his brain.
In theory, the virus could have multiplied a million times in a period of eight hours, Fung said.
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