Karl Stefanovic has revealed the panic that set in when his daughter Harper’s sniffly nose put her in the emergency ward earlier this week.
Like so many children this flu season, the two-year-old had been battling an ongoing cough and runny nose since the cooler weather set in.
But within a matter of hours, Harper’s symptoms got worse and Karl and his wife Jasmine started to worry.
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“Within about six hours she had a temperature – We gave her Nurofen and Panadol as advised and put her down for a sleep,” Karl said.
But when Harper woke from her nap, her breathing was stressed, she was wheezing, had developed a temperature and her heart rate had jumped.
“We took her to our GP, who is brilliant, but within a couple of minutes, her condition deteriorated, her temperature was more than 40C, and her heart beat was climbing over 200 beats per minute,” he said.
Karl said his GP used a nebuliser to stabilize Harper, but when an ambulance was called to take the little girl to hospital, the reality set in of just how serious her condition was.
He said he and Jasmine felt guilty about not taking Harper directly to hospital, instead opting to see the GP.
“When doctors start moving fast, you start getting more worried and I think the hardest thing for us was knowing – we should have probably taken her directly to hospital, but we took her to the GP instead,” Karl said.
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But Associate Professor Margie Danchin, a paediatrician at the Royal Children’s Hospital, said with emergency departments overwhelmed at the moment, parents can be unsure – but there are particular symptoms to monitor for before you take the next step.
“We don’t want parents going to the emergency department waiting six to eight hours if they can go to their GP,” she said.
“If a child has breathing difficulty or any blueness around the lips, or any signs of dehydration – if they’re not drinking, if they’re listless, pale, those are the things that should encourage a parent to take their child to the emergency department.
“But if the child has a fever, cough, runny nose, those sorts of more mild respiratory symptoms, then we would encourage them to access community care first.”
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Danchin said since March, there has been a big increase in children presenting with influenza A, with 20 per cent needing admission to hospital.
But in the last month, there has been an increase in hospital admissions of children with RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), which is what Harper is believed to have had and can cause bronchiolitis and pneumonia in extreme cases.
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