California Report Says Child Dies of Flu And RSV: In California, flu activity has spiked to levels not seen in years, putting further strain on an already overburdened healthcare system dealing with a wave of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases and the continued, powerful circulation of coronavirus. On Monday, officials from the California Department of Public Health reported the first death of the season attributable to influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, in a child under the age of 5.
California Report Says Child Dies of Flu And RSV
Dr Tomás Aragón, California’s public health director and health officer, stated of the paediatric fatality, “This unfortunate tragedy serves as a sharp warning that respiratory viruses can be deadly, especially in very young children and infants.”
According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which covers the week ending November 5 in California, flu activity was high throughout the state during that time period. According to the agency’s five-point scale, this is the second-worst possible classification.
There was little evidence of widespread flu activity two weeks ago across the whole state.
The CDC does not rely just on laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza to form its opinion; rather, it also takes into account cases of respiratory illness characterised by fever and either a cough or sore throat.
According to the state’s Department of Public Health, the most recent flu-positive rate in California was 14%, which is much higher than the levels seen at this time in each of the previous five years. In L.A. County, the percentage is considerably higher, at 25% (up from 13% the week before).
As of now, the counties of San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Imperial can be considered part of California’s flu-hot area. According to a recent message from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, medical professionals “must prepare for the probability of a severe influenza season this fall and winter.”
Specifically, “all patients, especially those aged 65 years and older, should be recommended at every healthcare contact to have both their influenza vaccine and the revised fall COVID-19 booster as soon as feasible,” the letter reads.
From the beginning of October to the 5th of November, thirteen people died in California due to the flu. Eight of these deaths were in the elderly.
According to the CDC, California is the only West Coast state with elevated flu activity at this early stage of the season. New York, Connecticut, New Mexico, Colorado, Nebraska, Ohio, and Illinois are just a few of the states where levels are high or very high.
After two pandemic-mild flu seasons, officials have repeatedly warned of the danger of a severe flu return this year, urging residents to be vaccinated and take other precautions.
Given the early hit of RSV and widespread anticipation that the coronavirus may rise again this fall and winter, these pleas have taken on a new urgency.
“Knowing that we face the possibility of having multiple respiratory illnesses circulating all at once and stressing our healthcare system, we can all be sure to do the things we know that work to prevent spreading respiratory illness: washing our hands, wiping down frequently touched surfaces, staying home if we’re not feeling well, and wearing a well-fitting, high-filtration mask when indoors, especially if you’re around those most vulnerable to severe illness.”
RSV, which can cause serious sickness and even death in young infants and elderly people, continues to keep children’s hospitals busy.
In a briefing to health experts last week, Dr Rohan Radhakrishna, deputy director of the California Department of Public Health, said, “Specifically within California, we are observing higher incidence inside Southern California.” According to the data supplied by Radhakrishna, the proportion of positive RSV tests in children’s specimens across the state reached a record high in early November, the highest proportion seen in California since the fall of 2019.
Due to the high number of cases of RSV and other respiratory ailments “requiring hospitalisation of children exceeding the capacity and infrastructure of our designated children’s hospitals,” Orange County, the third-most populous county in California, declared a health emergency. One of Orange County’s greatest weaknesses is that Children’s Health of Orange County operates only two of the country’s four major paediatric facilities. In addition, local hospitals may not be able to take in children who need to be relocated from farther away.
The Orange County Health Care Agency reports that this problem may become even direr due to the rising number of people getting sick with the flu and then being admitted to hospitals.
Since hospitalizations from the virus are not frequently reported, the government could not confirm an increase in flu-related hospitalizations for The Times. Hospitalizations from influenza [among adults] are expected to rise in the coming weeks as a result of the increase in influenza case reports. They’ll be sleeping in spaces that would otherwise house older children.
Officials from the California Department of Public Health have issued a statement urging hospitals to “consider short-term solutions to expand capacity for evaluation and treatment of paediatric patients” in light of rising patient loads. Aragón warned parents to get their kids vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19 as soon as possible since “we are entering a hectic winter viral season” with the spread of RSV, flu, and COVID-19. If you want to limit the spread of illness, it’s essential that you practise basic hygiene measures like washing your hands frequently, donning a mask, and remaining at home while you’re ill.
#RSV Hospitalizations Surge, Babies Hit Hardest—Emergency departments, pediatric hospitals strained by unseasonably early rise in respiratory infections via @WSJ with #NFID Medical Director William Schaffner, MDhttps://t.co/JMLWCI3tsQ #PreventRSV pic.twitter.com/t75mcVLg6l
— NFID (@NFIDvaccines) November 14, 2022
Because Los Angeles County has more children’s hospitals, it is reporting less strain than Orange County does. However, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, one of the major paediatric hospitals, reports that despite being able to admit patients, the emergency room is so overcrowded that it is not always able to accept transfers from other hospitals.
Emergency departments nationwide are seeing an unusually early surge in very young and elderly patients with respiratory distress caused by respiratory syncytial virus or RSV. @UCSFBenioffOAK experts on what you should know about RSV ⬇️ https://t.co/NBJzXCQezJ
— University of California (@UofCalifornia) November 14, 2022
As of late September, over 62% of paediatric hospital beds in L.A. County were taken, up from 54% at the beginning of August. Seventy per cent of the beds in the paediatric intensive care unit are occupied, up from 61 per cent a month ago. There is no emergency at the hospitals based on these data. Anecdotally, though, “hospitals and healthcare professionals are feeling anxious,” Ferrer added.
Officials also stress that many hospitals only have a small number of paediatric beds, thus crowding can quickly worsen. For children, “as few as nine or 10 new hospitalizations can have the potential to put a hospital at capacity,” as Ferrer put it.
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