Scare prompts flu vigilance
A 10-year-old Christchurch girl celebrated her fourth rebirth birthday this week.
Georgia Booth almost died of influenza four years ago after going into cardiac arrest minutes before she was due to have surgery at Christchurch Hospital.
Doctors performed CPR for 24 minutes.
Christine Booth is urging people to get their flu jabs after seeing the impact the virus had on her healthy young daughter. "People don't realise how bad influenza can be. We all get flu jabs now - and we never used to - because people do die from influenza," she said.
In August 2008, Georgia had been unwell with a cold but suddenly deteriorated.
"The fluid in the sac around her heart had built up and it affected her liver and lungs as well," her mother said.
Georgia was in hospital overnight before doctors picked up on the complications the influenza B virus had caused.
"She complained of a sore tummy and that's when they did the scan. They were prepping to take her into surgery when she crashed," Booth said.
Georgia, whose actual birthday is on Christmas Day, said she did not remember her near-death experience.
"And I think that's probably a good thing," she said.
"Sometimes when we have to get changed for sport at school people see my scar and ask me about it, but that's about it."
On August 9 every year the Booth family celebrate with a meal out.
"It's a bit like having two birthdays and I like it because we get takeaways, and on my real birthday all the shops are shut," Georgia said.
Booth, who has four children, said this winter had been particularly hard.
Georgia received her jab yesterday at the Papanui Medical Centre. "It's important, even though it stings a bit," she said.
Canterbury's flu immunisation rates have been lower this year compared with last year, particularly for the under-18 age group.
DO-IT-YOURSELF REMEDIES POPULAR
Traditional flu remedies have been flying off South Island shelves this winter.
Supermarkets are reporting an increase in lemon, ginger and garlic sales as people try to dodge colds and flu.
Countdown figures show more than 80,000 lemons were bought by South Islanders in June, a 43 per cent increase on June 2011 lemon sales.
Ginger, garlic, cough medicines, hand sanitiser, honey and tissue sales were up by at least 10 per cent.
Almost 1 million traditional bug-busting products were sold in June, up about 300,000 on June 2011.
Countdown health merchandise manager Fiona Pointon said people were using traditional and medicinal remedies to avoid or treat winter ailments.
Hand sanitiser was "lower on the South Island's priority list" compared with the North Island, she said.
These products always sold well in the winter but this year the increase had been "higher than expected".
The co-owner of V-Mart Fruit and Veges in Riccarton, Thuy Van Duong, said she had seen a "big increase" in ginger and lemon sales.
"They're always good sellers, but this year more people seem to be buying lemons and ginger to make drinks."
Foodstuffs New Zealand communications director Antoinette Shallue said there had been a "marked increase" in the amount of cold and flu products being sold.
"Sales of traditional winter remedies have increased by about a fifth compared to last year across our New World, Pak 'n Save and Four Square stores."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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