Toddler in coma with the flu, mother hospitalized with pneumonia

GLENDALE, AZ - If you've haven't had to take a sick day yet yourself, most of us know at least one person who's gotten the flu this season.

But doctors are pointing out a difference in who's getting sick and just how hard they're getting hit.

This year's strain of H1N1 is still serious for the very young, very old, and those with pre-existing health conditions, but doctors also point out that the virus is indiscriminant.

40% of Arizona flu cases are healthy, able bodied adults 19 to 49-years-old, compared to just 27% last flu season.

"They can be perfectly healthy without an underlying condition and this influenza will put them at deaths door." said Doctor John Duong-Tran, Medical Director of the Pediatric ICU at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center.

Dr. Duong-Tran warns children are still very susceptible to the virus.

One of his patients is two-and-a-half-year-old Shiann Sloan.

Her parents, Brandon and Stephanie Sloan, say their daughter came down with a cold about two weeks ago that quickly worsened.  She was born with omphalocele, a condition where her intestines were formed outside her body, it also weakens her immune system.  They called 911 when her health worsened and doctors informed them Shiann had the flu.  She needs help breathing and was prescribed more than a dozen medications. Doctors put the girl in a medically induced coma to help her body better fight the infection.

"Your heart kind of sinks a little bit" Brandon said, "when you hear that you know you're definitely going to be in for a battle."

The Sloan's got hit with a double whammy.  Stephanie thought she was just tired from caring for a sick baby and maybe picked up a cold. Suddenly she didn't have the strength to stand and was admitted to the hospital a day after her daughter for pneumonia.

She was put on antibiotics and wasn't able to go into Shiann's hospital room for a week.

"I thought it was going to be a quick, get some rest, get some meds, but it turned into a week in the hospital"

Stephanie is better now and able to join her husband at their daughter's bedside, where they pray and wait for her health to improve.

"We talk to her as much as we can, pray with her, sing with her, whatever we can to let her know we're there."

Stephanie and Brandon are hopeful Shiann will be able to be pulled out of sedation in a few days.  

Family members have set a up a donation website to help the family stay on their feet while Brandon misses work to stay with his daughter.

Doctor Duong-Tran advises the best line of defense is to get a flu shot. He also reminds to wash your hands regularly, cover your cough and stay home from work if you get sick.

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