The Riverside County Public Health Department says a child who died recently at a local hospital is the first flu-related death in the county this flu season.

The child was under 10 years old and was hospitalized with respiratory symptoms after feeling ill for several days. They later tested positive for influenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), the Public Health Department said.

Additional details about the child have not been released, other than that they lived in the western part of Riverside County.

“Any premature death is a tragedy, but the death of a child is particularly difficult. Our thoughts are with the family, friends and others impacted by the death of this young child,” said Public Health Director Kim Saruwatari. 

RSV cases are of particular concern for California health officials, and the virus has been blamed for a handful of deaths across the state.

RSV is a common viral infection that often impacts people during childhood. Due to previous years of masking and physical distancing, many adults and children have fewer antibodies against it and are more susceptible to catching the infection.

Increases in RSV and COVID-19 cases along with the annual flu season have put a strain on Riverside County’s hospital system and “jammed emergency departments with ailing patients,” Public Health officials said.

So far this flu season, more than 6 million Americans have contracted influenza, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Residents are urged to take precautions to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses and get vaccinated for both COVID-19 and influenza.

Additional information about respiratory illnesses can be found on the Riverside County Public Health Department website.

Other precautionary steps to take include washing hands frequently, covering your mouth during coughs and sneezes, disinfecting high-traffic surfaces and keeping children home when they are sick. Public health officials also encourage people to consider wearing a face covering indoors in crowded areas and in the public.