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Trinidad: Family suspects swine flue in death of 3 year-old girl

By Trinidad Newsday

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Pretoria Smith

(TRINIDAD NEWSDAY) —  A three-year-old girl died in the arms of her father after suffering for three days from cold-like symptoms, which her family believes were related to the H1N1 virus (swine flu).

Prentice Smith and Daywate Sinanan are now calling for a full investigation into the death of their daughter, Pretoria Smith, by the Health Ministry as they said they were told by a district medical officer after an autopsy was done that the toddler may have died from the H1N1 virus.

A death certificate shows that the cause of her death is now under investigation.

Pretoria died at the family’s Claxton Bay home on Thursday morning. She collapsed in the family’s bedroom and her father who was nearby picked her up. “I was washing at the time and I could hear my husband screaming, ‘She is not breathing, Oh God no.’ My baby took her last breath in her father’s arms,” Sinanan told Sunday Newsday on Saturday.

“We want answers. I want to know what my daughter really died from. I don’t want this to be covered up. I would not wish the pain I now feel on any mother. I heart is completely broken,” she said.

Sinanan said her daughter started to show symptoms such as vomiting, running nose, watery eyes, coughing and developed a high fever within the last two days. Her other two children also had the symptoms.

The worried mother said she went to the St Margaret’s health centre to inquire about the H1N1 vaccination but was told her daughter could not be vaccinated until after what was believed to be the flu ended.

She was advised to give her children Histal and Panadol which she did.

“We thought Pretoria was getting better as she started to run and play like she usually does but she was not, my baby was slowly dying from this virus. We did not expect this. Parents, please go vaccinate your children please,” the emotional mother said.

Earlier this month, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram confirmed that three people had died from the virus in October.

On Friday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said few people have chosen to be vaccinated.

He told the House of Representatives Government imported 100,000 doses of influenza vaccine, available at all public health centres.

“So far the uptake of these vaccines has been disappointingly low,” he said in reply to a query on a possible outbreak.

He urged five vulnerable groups to get vaccinated: pregnant women, children under five, immunocompromised people, the elderly and health workers.

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