A Riverside County child under 4 years old has died after contracting a respiratory illness possibly tied to Respiratory Syncytial Virus, officials announced Monday.

The name of the child and where exactly he or she lived is not being released, but officials confirmed it is the first pediatric RSV-related death in the county.

The child died at a hospital after a short illness, officials said.

“(It) underscores the early onset of what is expected to be an active winter season countywide for influenza, COVID and other respiratory illnesses,” health officials said in a news release.

“The loss of a child is devastating and all of Public Health sends it heartfelt condolences to the family, loved ones and anyone impacted by this tragic event,” Geoffrey Leung, public health officer for Riverside County, said in the news release.

He urged parents to take necessary precautions to protect their children amid an increase in the flu and RSV in young children.

Some recommendations include:

  • Frequent hand washing
  • Covering coughs and sneezes
  • Keeping children home when sick
  • Considering using face masks indoors
  • Disinfecting frequently used surfaces and spaces

Residents are also advised to call their healthcare provider and seek immediate medical attention if a child or anyone is having difficulty breathing.

RSV typically causes mild, cold-like symptoms, but can be serious for infants and older adults each winter, health officials detailed.

RSV season usually lasts from November to March, but it began early this year, and experts say it seems to be affecting more kids than previous seasons. RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than 1 in the U.S., Riverside County health officials highlighted.

Symptoms can include shallow or difficulty breathing, cough, poor appetite, listlessness or irritability and it can cause bronchiolitis and pneumonia.

Last week, California reported its first death of a child under 5 from flu and RSV.

At the beginning of the month, Orange County officials declared a health emergency due to flu and RSV cases.