California Reports First Death of Child Under 5 Tied to Flu and RSV

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California on Monday reported its first death this winter season in a child under age of 5 tied to flu and RSV.

In a statement, the department said details of where the death occurred would not be disclosed to protect patient confidentiality.

"Our hearts go out to the family of this young child," CDPH Director Dr. Tomas Aragon said. "This tragic event serves as a stark reminder that respiratory viruses can be deadly, especially in very young children and infants."

"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.” 

According to the CDC, RSV results in around 58,000 annual hospitalizations and 100 to 300 deaths among children under 5 each year in the U.S.

With the virus spreading among children, parents are going back to the basics.

"He told me the other day that there were a lot of kids coughing in the class and I was like 'OK, make sure you wash your hands, and cover your cough if you have it and try to keep your distance from them,'" said parent Veronica Johnson.

Santa Clara County’s Health Department said it's worried about what were seeing at our clinics and hospitals and asks families to stay isolate the sick, but most importantly to stay up to date with their COVID and flu shots.

“I think this is a really strong reminder that the diseases that can cause a cold in an adult or an older child can be life threatening for little babies," said Dr. Sarah Rudman.

California confirmed its first RSV-related death Monday. Officials said the child, under the age of 5, died from flu and RSV and did not say where the child was from.

In the last two weeks, cities like Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and Gilroy have seen the biggest increase of RSV detections in their wastewater.

This data is helping hospitals prepare for surges and health departments are taking this into account when deciding when and if they need to declare a public health emergency.

“At this point we are monitoring closely to see what kind of support our hospitals need. We are fortunate here that we are not yet seeing inability to care for our sickest kids,” said Rudman.

But Dr. Yvonne Maldonado with Stanford Healthcare said they’re already functioning as if a local health emergency has been declared.

She says the real issue now is how do we keep kids from getting infected.

“If we’re in gatherings, if we are indoors, I think first of all people should not gather if they are sick and secondly I think people should really consider wearing masks if they are going to be indoors if they have small kids around,” said Maldonado.

She said that this year, they’re also seeing more hospitalizations among older children and kids with multiple viruses.

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