Riverside County Public Health Department is not giving many details about a child who has died from the flu in the Coachella Valley.
The child was under 5 years old, and died earlier this month after being hospitalized.
The child tested positive for Influenza A and did not have any known underlying health conditions.
“The death of a child is a loss for the entire community,” said Dr. Geoffrey Leung, public health officer for Riverside County. “While such outcomes are uncommon, it reminds us that influenza is not to be taken lightly and we should take steps to protect everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us.”
Health officials are urging everyone 6 months or older get vaccinated against the flu. Vaccine rates for flu and other respiratory illnesses are down from previous years both locally and nationally.
For younger children and older adults, as well as people with certain health conditions, respiratory viruses can cause more severe disease and may require additional medical care. Most people who get flu will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) because of flu, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death.
Children experiencing the following warning signs should obtain medical care right away:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish lips or face
- Ribs pulling in with each breath
- Chest pain
- Severe muscle pain (child refuses to walk)
- Dehydration (no urine for 8 hours, dry mouth, no tears when crying)
- Not alert or interacting when awake
- Fever above 104 degrees Fahrenheit that is not controlled by fever-reducing medicine
- In children younger than 12 weeks, any fever
- Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
- Worsening of chronic medical conditions
Each year, the flu leads to tens of thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations nationally.
Influenza season generally runs from October to April. For more information on who influenza is impacting in Riverside County click the Riverside County Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report.
The most critical steps residents can take to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 and influenza is to get vaccinated. There are other steps, too, like frequent hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and disinfecting frequently used surfaces.
For more information about respiratory illnesses, visit RUHealth.org.
Empty bed in a hospital.
Photo from Alpha Media Palm Springs CA