A Winnipeg high school student died of the flu.
Blaine Ruppenthal, a grade 12 student from Kelvin High School, died on Monday after suffering medical complications, according to his family.
The 17-year-old suffered two cardiac arrests twice on January 7 and was rushed to San Bonifacio, where he was put into an induced coma and received hypothermic therapy, says a Facebook post from his cousin Mary-Anne Clarke.
“Doctors concluded that this was caused by type A flu,” wrote Clark.
“He was a beautiful, intelligent and kind boy,” he added in a message to CBC News.
Kelvin Maria Silva’s principal sent a letter Monday to parents and guardians of all students, saying that a counseling center will be at school for anyone who needs to speak.
“It is hoped that by providing a place of support for pain expressions, students and staff will be able to understand and cope with the loss,” says the letter.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by the news of his disappearance.”
The school letter also includes a link to a Facebook memorial page; Ruppenthal’s family asked for it to be shared so that friends could contribute memories and condolences.
“Just as we encouraged students to express their feelings here at school, we also encourage you to discuss death at home,” says Silva’s letter to parents.
“Listening to your child and recognizing his or her feelings will be helpful. As each child and their experiences are different, the need for discussion and support will also vary.”
Winnipeg School Division spokesman Radean Carter said consultants will be in Kelvin for as long as necessary for students and staff.
“It is unusual and unexpected when someone is still in school [dies]. We hear a lot about the elderly and young people affected by this extreme, “he said about the impact of the flu.
“So it’s quite unexpected, quite shocking, and we’re so sad about the family and what they’re experiencing right now.”
The province reported a previous death from the flu this season in December. No information was provided on the person’s age or gender.
Earlier this month, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority activated the overcapacity protocols and the regional flu plan in its hospitals due to an increase in patients in the emergency departments, urgent care and intensive care.
In an internal memo sent to CBC News staff, WRHA administrators stated that confirmed cases of type A influenza, type B influenza and respiratory syncytial virus had been confirmed.
“Getting all three viruses to manifest at the same time is unusual. Most years, each virus starts and peaks at a different time,” says the memo.
“This is a difficult time but all hands are on the bridge and we are monitoring the situation and we meet every day to make sure we do everything possible to provide safe care.”
During last year’s flu season, 17 people died in Manitoba, according to a Manitoba Health report.
So far this year, only 22% of the province’s population has been immunized with the seasonal flu vaccine, says Manitoba Health.