California reports first flu and respiratory syncytial virus death of a young child – Desert Sun

The California Department of Public Health on Monday reported the winter season’s first death of a child under the age of 5 due to flu and respiratory syncytial virus.
No additional information, including where the death occurred, was provided.
Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms in most people, but immunocompromised individuals, older adults and infants are most at-risk for severe infection. Infection can cause bronchiolitis, or inflammation of small airways, and difficulty breathing.
Most children are exposed to the virus by the time they are 2 years old. Infections typically go away on their own in a week or two.
“Our hearts go out to the family of this young child,” state Public Health Officer and CDPH Director Dr. Tomás Aragón said in a statement. 
“This tragic event serves as a stark reminder that respiratory viruses can be deadly, especially in very young children and infants,” Aragón continues. “We are entering a busy winter virus season – with RSV, flu and COVID-19 spreading – and urge parents and guardians to vaccinate their children as soon as possible against flu and COVID-19. It’s also important to follow basic prevention tips like frequent hand washing, wearing a mask, and staying home when sick to slow the spread of germs.”
Coachella Valley hospitals saw an early influx of RSV and influenza cases this October, the highest they’ve been in five years. Typically, influenza and RSV cases are most rampant during the months of November, December and January, but the early start in October suggests another tough storm for health care workers to weather this season. 
With influenza, California is seeing increasing activity with flu positivity and hospitalizations, as of the week ending Nov. 5. The southern region of the state, which includes San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial counties, is experiencing the highest flu activity in the state, according to recent data. 
At least 13 influenza-related deaths have been reported in California.
On a national level, 3.0 people per 100,000 have been hospitalized due to RSV as of the week ending Nov. 6, surpassing the 1.1 per 100,000 seen during the same week of the 2021-2022 season. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the 2019-2020 season had a hospitalization rate of 0.4 per 100,000 for the week ending Nov. 6.
Health care officials are encouraging residents to take preventative measures to protect themselves and loved ones from illness. 
Similar to other viruses, RSV is spread through large droplets, like from sneezing or coughing, so wearing a face mask is encouraged. The virus can also last on a surface for several hours and on someone’s unwashed hands for about 30 minutes, so frequent handwashing and disinfecting of surfaces is recommended. 
Health care officials also highly encourage adults and children to get vaccinated for both COVID-19 and influenza. Everyone 6 months and older are eligible to receive those vaccinations.
Most importantly, people should stay home if they are sick. 
Ema Sasic covers entertainment and health in the Coachella Valley. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @ema_sasic.

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