California child dies from combination of flu and RSV in first fatal pediatric case this season

California child dies from combination of flu and RSV in first fatal pediatric case this season

The state Department of Public Health reported Monday that influenza and RSV claimed the life of a California child under age 5 for the first time during the 2022-23 season.

To protect the family’s privacy, state officials said they would not release any further information about the child.

“Our hearts go out to the family of this young child,” said Dr. Tomás Aragón, director of the state public health department and state health officer. “This tragic event is a stark reminder that respiratory viruses can be deadly, especially in very young children and infants.”

Aragón sent a letter Friday to all health facilities, informing them that RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, was “already reaching levels similar to seasonal peaks in previous years.” Last year, cases of this virus peaked in December, but in the previous three years, such peaks only occurred in January or February.

The Department of Health has recommended that all health care facilities, including inpatient and outpatient facilities without existing pediatric wards, use their short-term measures to expand capacity to ensure pediatric patients can be assessed and treated. .

“We are entering a busy winter virus season – with the spread of RSV, influenza and COVID-19 – and urge parents and guardians to vaccinate their children as soon as possible against influenza and COVID-19,” said Aragon. “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.”

In a statement sent to The Bee on Monday, Kaiser Permanente officials said, “We are seeing an increase in RSV in our Northern California hospitals, but we have the capacity to treat patients.

Detection of flu cases has increased 14% at surveillance labs, according to state data, and while those numbers show virus activity remains low across Northern California, surveillance systems sewage shows that influenza activity is increasing sharply in Sacramento.

COVID-19 data is harder to assess now that many people are testing for the disease at home. Sewage data shows a sharp increase in COVID activity in Sacramento compared to two weeks ago, but declining activity in Davis.

Data shows that vaccinated people are much less likely to die or be hospitalized. In September 2022, state officials noted that unvaccinated people were 3.1 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than people vaccinated with at least one primary series.

“We encourage everyone, on an individual level, to do what they can to protect themselves and others, including testing for COVID-19 when they feel sick and staying home and away from home. away from others when sick,” Kaiser officials said. “We urge people to get their flu shots and their COVID-19 shots or boosters, which continue to protect against serious illness and death. And we continue to recommend the wearing of masks and social distancing, especially during surges in indoor spaces between other people. These measures help protect the most vulnerable in our communities from COVID-19 disease. »

Vaccination is a crucial way to ensure there are enough hospital beds to treat all patients who need urgent medical care this fall and winter, public health officials have said.

This story was originally published November 14, 2022 3:02 p.m.

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Cathie Anderson covers health care for The Bee. Growing up, her blue-collar parents paid for care out of their own pockets. She joined The Bee in 2002, with roles including business columnist and editor. She previously worked at newspapers such as Dallas Morning News, Detroit News and Austin American-Statesman.

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