The Calgary Sun: Flu shot suspect in death
Tuesday, January 6, 2004
Flu shot suspect in death
By BILL KAUFMANN, CALGARY SUN
The grieving family of a 22-month-old Calgary girl who died mysteriously are
wondering if the tot suffered a fatal reaction to a flu vaccination.
Relatives say on Dec. 30, Emma Bealing came down with a high fever, then
suffered multiple seizures and died Sunday night at the Alberta Children's
Hospital after her parents consented to unhook their daughter from life support.
"She died in her dad's (Douglas's) arms," said Emma's aunt, Joanne Bealing,
Said Anthony Bealing, Emma's uncle: "No parent should have to decide how
their child dies."
The seizures "came out of the blue" said the uncle, adding Emma was placed on
life support last Tuesday.
Her brain, he said, subsequently experienced severe swelling consistent with
the condition Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM).
Along with bacterial or viral infections, ADEM can be caused by a severe
response to inoculation -- a reaction that can lie dormant for two to three weeks.
Seizures are one symptom of an adverse reaction to inoculation, according to
the Canadian Medical Association.
A family member said the girl had received a flu vaccination about a month
"(Vaccination as a cause) is only one theory we're looking at," said Anthony.
"We wish the doctors did know for sure but they don't."
He said Calgary Health Region officials told them an autopsy will be done to
determine what led to the tragedy.
The CHR wouldn't comment on the case.
Douglas Bealing and his wife Maureen had overcome medical challenges to have
both Emma and her older brother, Harrison, 6, said the girl's aunt, Joanne.
"It's just extremely tragic -- this couldn't come to a more loving or
undeserving little family," she said.
"Emma had a good personality even at 22 months and a good sense of humour."
She said the death that's shocked and devastated the family now has struck
fear in her own household.
"I have a six-year-old and I'm going to be paranoid with every little fever
she has," said Joanne.
Late last month, Jayden Tucker, 2, of Airdrie died after what might have been
complications arising from the flu.
Meanwhile, a three-year-old Nova Scotia girl died on the weekend from what
health officials believe was the flu, the province's chief medical officer said
"It is rare for an otherwise healthy child to get severely ill with
influenza," Dr. Jeff Scott said.
So far this season, there have been three confirmed cases of the flu causing
or contributing to the death of a child in Canada -- two in Ontario and one in
To date, three other cases are under investigation.