A Perth toddler has died suddenly from the flu after being admitted to hospital late last month.

Muhammed Saadiq Segaff, 3, went into respiratory distress prompting open heart surgery but could not be saved, it's been reported.

The three-year-old's symptoms began with wheezing but he rapidly deteriorated and was rushed to Fiona Stanley Hospital in Murdoch, Western Australia. He was later transferred to the Perth Children’s Hospital where he was put on life support, but his parents decided to turn it off on May 26.

Tests revealed the toddler has influenza A making him WA's youngest flu death this year, The West Australian reported overnight. Muhammed's parents said their son was a "cheeky, happy and always smiling" little boy who they said was otherwise perfectly healthy.

Muhammed Saadiq Segaff Perth toddler

Muhammed Saadiq Segaff, 3, died from the flu last week. source: GoFundMe

Healthy children still at risk of serious flu

On average, between five and 10 Australian children are reported to die from influenza each year, according to The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP). Many deaths occur in previously healthy children with those under five more likely to be hospitalised.

Perth Children’s Hospital Infectious Diseases Specialist Dr Chris Blyth said about 10 per cent of children admitted with the flu are sent to the hospital's intensive care unit. "We have a significant and effective prevention strategy for flu, it’s a flu vaccine,” Dr Blyth warned.

Perth Childen's hospital.

On average, between five and 10 Australian children are reported to die from influenza each year. Source: Getty

Signs of influenza in children

Common symptoms to look out for include fever, cough, headache, a sore throat and a runny nose. The virus can also infect the lungs, causing pneumonia, the RACGP website reads.

Dr Blyth said "fast breathing and breathlessness is a worrying sign in children" as it can affect the brain. "So confusion or drowsiness is another important sign. Both of those things would make me want to seek medical advice," he told 7News.

There have already been over 40,000 cases of laboratory-proven influenza so far in 2023, with more than 8,173 cases diagnosed in the first half of May alone, according to the Australian Government’s National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System.

Since his death, over $27,000 has been raised for Muhammad's family in an online fundraiser.

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