WINNIPEG — A Grade 12 student at Kelvin High School has passed away after complications from the flu.
Blaine Ruppenthal, who was 17, died over the weekend after suffering cardiac arrest twice, said a note posted to a Facebook page by Ruppenthal’s cousin, Mary-Anne Clarke.
Clarke said Ruppenthal was rushed to St. Boniface Hospital on January 7 and put into an induced coma and received hypothermic therapy.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by the news of his passing,” said Maria Silva, Principal of Kelvin High School.
“Since many students and staff are affected by Blaine’s passing, our School Crisis Response Plan was activated with input from administration, guidance and Clinical Support Services,” she said in a letter to parents on Monday.
“Just as we have encouraged students to express their feelings here at school, we also encourage you to discuss the death at home. Listening to your child and acknowledging their feelings will be helpful. As each child and their experiences are different, the need for discussion and support will also vary.”
Statistics from Manitoba Health show one other person has died and more than 30 have been hospitalized due to flu since September.
The department says the number of people visiting emergency rooms in the last week of 2019 was the highest in three years.
A memo to staff at St. Boniface Hospital last week says this year is unusual in that three flu viruses have been peaking at the same time.
Manitoba’s chief public health officer, Dr. Brent Roussin, said that while flu vaccine campaigns are aimed primarily at seniors, the very young and people with chronic health conditions, the flu can strike anyone.
“We do see, for the most part, the severe outcomes occur in those at the extremes of ages or those with underlying medical conditions,” Roussin said Tuesday.
“But unfortunately we do sometimes see healthy individuals have severe outcomes due to the flu.”
— With files from The Canadian Press