'It was his first Father's Day': Young dad latest to fall victim to deadly influenza outbreak

Samantha Ihlow with her 10-month-old son Andrew and husband Ben Ihlow who died after contracting influenza.
Samantha Ihlow with her 10-month-old son Andrew and husband Ben Ihlow who died after contracting influenza.  Photo: Supplied

A young father has died of influenza on what should have been his first Father's Day with his baby son.

Ben Ihlow, 30, was an otherwise healthy and devoted dad when he was struck down by the flu last week.

Within days Mr Ihlow, from Bacchus Marsh west of Melbourne, was dead, a victim of the most widespread flu epidemic in 15 years.

His uncle Neil Adams said the family was devastated by the loss of the "bubbly and bright man" who was in prime of his life.

"Everyone's in shock, because it was so sudden," he told Channel Seven.

"He got sick on the Monday, just had a bit of a bug."

By Friday, Mr Ihlow's condition had deteriorated and he was taken to hospital.

He died in the early hours of Sunday morning due to complications associated with influenza. 

His wife Samantha had given birth to the couple's first child, Andrew, just 10 months ago.


"It was his first Father's Day, unfortunately [we] didn't get to spend that with him," Mr Adams said.

"He was bubbly and bright, he loved to play cricket and sport, he loved his football."

Mr Adams said Samantha was still grappling with the reality of life without her husband.

"We're all rallying behind his wife and his son, do whatever we can, and give them whatever help we can," he said.

He said the close-knit Bacchus Marsh community had rallied behind the family.

Within two days, a crowdfunding appeal to support the family has raised more than $8000 of its $10,000 target. 

Mr Ihlow's death comes as an eighth person died after a flu outbreak at an aged-care facility in Victoria with 14 more facilities reporting outbreaks at the weekend.

There have been more than 12,000 cases of influenza reported in Victoria this year and more than 105,000 cases nationally.

The flu epidemic gripping the country has also led to a nationwide shortage of the anti-viral medication Tamiflu.  

On Tuesday, Victorian authorities said eight people aged between 70 and 94 had died after a flu outbreak at a nursing home in the state's north-east.

A further 100 people fell ill in the outbreak at Wangaratta's St John's Retirement Village over the past few weeks.

Official figures have confirmed that August 2017 was the worst month on record for flu cases in NSW.

NSW Health data shows there were 35,670 confirmed flu cases in the state in August, more than double the number of cases in July.