The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reported the first respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) death of a child under 5 years old, Monday.
No further details about the child were given by CDPH, due to patient confidentiality, but the incident led CDPH to urge parents to get their children vaccinated against a possible coming wave of the flu and COVID-19.
“This tragic event serves as a stark reminder that respiratory viruses can be deadly, especially in very young children and infants,” CDPH Director Dr. Tomás Aragón said in a statement. “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.”
RSV is typically spread during the winter, but cases began circulating in California in October. The virus can lead to serious disease in children and elderly adults.
On Friday, November 12, CDPH put out an advisory, warning that RSV cases were rising in California, leading to an increase in hospitalizations, putting stress on the pediatric healthcare system.
The department of health suggested healthcare facilities expand its pediatric capacity to prepare for a possible winter surge in the respiratory virus.
Most cases are treated within two weeks of infection, but can lead to bronchiolitis, pneumonia and death in rare cases.
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