Guelph elementary school student killed by flu 'can never be replaced'

Two children who attended the same school in Guelph, Ont. have died from the flu, but public health officials say there is no indication the virus passed between them.

Layna was the only child of Stan and his wife Le Pollard. Just 48 hours later, she collapsed in her bathroom and was rushed to hospital, where she died. A note sent home Friday said the child was a male Grade 2 student.

Layna Pollard, a Grade 7 student, started showing flu-like symptoms on January 29, according to her parents.

"When the doctor finished and said they couldn't do nothing else, we kissed her on the forehead and a tear came out of her eye". She had not received the flu shot, which is considered 55 per cent effective at preventing influenza B infection, though only 10 to 20 per cent effective against another dominant flu strain this season, H3N2.

Stan Pollard confirmed his daughter's death, saying she died of the influenza B virus.

He wanted to point out that his daughter did not receive a flu shot but believes that it would not have saved her even if she had.

The recent death of a 12-year-old Guelph elementary school student is being blamed on influenza and health officials suspect a second death could also be connected to the illness.

Heather Loney, spokesperson for the Upper Grand District School Board, confirmed in an email that both children attended school in the board, but said "out of respect for the families and to protect their privacy, we are not releasing identifying details of the students".

"Our sympathies are with the families at this time", said Dr. Nicola Mercer, medical officer of health, in a statement.

The death have left many parents anxious about the unpredictability of the flu with many asking about what signs to look for and when to act.

Additionally, the school board has sent additional cleaning staff to help sanitize classrooms at schools, and made increased counselling and support services available at Westminster Woods.

Meanwhile, Public Health was hosting additional flu shot clinics, encouraging people to get vaccinated.

According to the latest FluWatch report of the Public Health Agency of Canada released Friday, five children under 16 have died of the flu in Canada as of February 3.

Christopher Beveridge, the health protection director for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, says this year has been a "particularly hard" flu season for the area, with activity hitting a new high this week.

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