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In California, a child dies from the flu and RSV as cases soar and hospitals are under threat.


In , the flu season has roared to life, reaching levels not seen in years and threatening to put additional burden on the healthcare system, which is already dealing with an influx of RSV cases and the still-potent coronavirus circulation.

The California Department of Public Health stated on Monday that a kid under the age of five had died from the flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, underscoring the concerning circumstances.

Dr. Tomás Aragón, California's public health director and health officer, stated of the pediatric death: "This unfortunate episode serves as a sharp warning that respiratory viruses can be lethal, especially in very young children and infants."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that California experienced high flu activity for the week ending Nov. 5, the most recent time period for which data are available. On the five-tier scale used by the agency, that is the second most serious category.

Statewide flu-like sickness activity was regarded as being low two weeks ago.

The CDC's assessment is based not only on laboratory-confirmed flu cases but also on surveillance for respiratory illnesses that include a fever plus a cough or sore throat.

According to the state Department of Public Health, California's most recent flu positivity rate was 14%, significantly higher than the rates seen at this time in any of the previous five years. In L.A. County, the rate is 25%, up from 13% last week, making it even worse.

According to state data, the southeast of California has so far seen the highest flu activity, affecting the counties of San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Imperial.

Healthcare professionals "must prepare for the possibility of a severe influenza season this fall and winter," according to a recent communication from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

The message continued, "All patients — especially those 65 years and older — should be encouraged to get both their influenza vaccine and their updated fall COVID-19 booster as soon as possible at every healthcare encounter."

Between the beginning of October and November 5th, California reported 13 flu-related deaths, with eight of them occurring in seniors.

According to the CDC, California is the only state on the West Coast with a high level of flu activity this early in the season. Nevertheless, a number of states, including Illinois, New York, Connecticut, New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska, and New York, have high or extremely high levels.

After two pandemic-shortened flu seasons, authorities have consistently issued warnings about the potential for a severe flu rebound this year and have urged residents to get immunized and take other preventative measures.

Given the early RSV punch and the widespread belief that the coronavirus could reemerge this fall and winter, those calls have taken on a greater sense of urgency.

We can all be sure to do the things we know that work to prevent spreading respiratory illness, such as washing our hands, wiping down frequently touched surfaces, staying at home if we're feeling under the weather, and wearing a well-fitting, high-filtration mask when indoors, especially if you're around those most susceptible to severe illness.

Children's hospitals are still very busy treating RSV, which can seriously illen and even kill young children and the elderly.

Dr. Rohan Radhakrishna, a deputy director at the California Department of Public Health, informed medical professionals last week that "specifically within California, we are noticing higher rates within Southern California."

Radhakrishna's data revealed that as of early November, 33% of children's specimens statewide had tested positive for RSV, the highest rate for the illness since fall 2019 in California.

The third-most populous county in California, Orange, declared a health emergency because the number of children being admitted to hospitals for RSV and other respiratory illnesses "exceeds the capacity and infrastructure of our designated children's hospitals." Only two principal children's hospitals, both administered by Children's Health of Orange County, make Orange County extremely vulnerable. Additionally, pediatric patients who have been transported from other areas are not always accepted by the area's hospitals.

According to the Orange County Health Care Agency, a surge in flu cases and adult hospitalizations poses a threat of aggravating the situation.

The organization said in a statement to The Times that because flu hospitalizations are not frequently reported, it is impossible to establish with certainty whether or not there has been an increase. "But given the increased number of influenza case reports, we can expect that adult influenza hospitalizations will rise in the coming weeks. These people will occupy beds that would typically be reserved for elderly [pediatric] patients.

According to a statement from the California Department of Public Health, state health officials are also advising healthcare facilities to "explore short-term measures to expand capacity for evaluation and treatment of pediatric patients" given the current and anticipated hospital demands.

We are entering a busy winter virus season, with RSV, flu, and COVID-19 all on the rise. As a result, Aragón urged parents and guardians to immunize their kids as soon as possible against flu and COVID-19. To stop the spread of germs, it's also crucial to practice simple prevention techniques like routine hand washing, wearing a mask, and staying in when sick.

Because it has more children's hospitals than Orange County, Los Angeles County is reporting comparatively less stress. However, one of the major pediatric hospitals, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, claims that despite being able to admit patients, sometimes it is unable to accept transfers from other hospitals due to the strain in its emergency room.

In L.A. County, the occupancy rate for pediatric hospital beds is currently around 62%, up from 54% at the start of August. Additionally, utilization in the pediatric intensive care unit is up to 70% from 61% just one month ago.

"These figures don't indicate a serious situation at hospitals right now. Hospitals and healthcare workers are reportedly feeling stressed, according to anecdotal reports, said Ferrer.

The capacity of hospitals with only a few beds designated for treating children, according to officials, can quickly deteriorate at many of these facilities.

According to Ferrer, "as few as nine or ten new hospitalizations can potentially put a hospital at capacity for their pediatric patients."

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