A young Melbourne father is the latest to fall victim of a deadly influenza outbreak.
The Bacchus Marsh local was struck with the flu early last week, before going into hospital on Friday.
Ben Ihlow was spending his first Father’s Day in hospital, where he died in the early hours of the morning.
According to The Age, there have been more than 12,000 cases of influenza reported in Victoria this year and more than 105,000 cases nationally.
The 30-year-old’s uncle, Neil Adams, spoke of the devastating loss to Channel Seven.
“Everyone’s in shock, because it was so sudden,” he said.
“He got sick on Monday, just had a bit of a bug.”
The loving father leaves behind 10-month-old son, Andrew, and school teacher wife Samantha.
“It was his first Father’s Day, unfortunately [we] didn’t get to spend that with him.
“He was bubbly and bright, he loved to play cricket and sport, he loved his football.
“We’re all rallying behind his wife and his son, do whatever we can, and give them whatever help we can.”
There has since been a fundraising page developed in hope to raise $10,000 to support the family.
“He was a warm and generous man with a loving wife and young son who is yet to turn one,” A statement on the crowdfunding appeal reads.
“His death has come as a great shock to all and as a community we want to help support Samantha and the couple’s baby for their future.
“She has made such a positive impact on so many children’s lives and now it is our turn to support Samantha and baby Andrew and return the love that she has shown to so many of her students through this difficult time.”
Ihlow’s tragic death follows the eight elderly residents who died at a Wangaratta retirement centre after a contagious flu outbreak. More than 100 staff and residents were also left sick.
According to figures from the Australian Health Department, there has been a major increase in flu cases compared to this time last year.
“High levels of influenza activity in the community are likely to continue for the next few weeks,” a summary on the Australian Influenza Surveillance Report reads.