• Young children are said to be "most vulnerable" to flu and RSV complications
  • RSV and Flu seasons began earlier than usual this year
  • 'We are entering a busy winter virus season': CDPH Director Dr. Tomás Aragón

A young child has died of the flu and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) in California. Health authorities warn this is a "stark reminder" that these illnesses can be dangerous.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) confirmed the death Monday but did not divulge further information about the patient, citing confidentiality. It noted the child was under five years old.

This marks the first flu and RSV death of a child under five years this winter season, the agency noted, adding that young children are "most vulnerable" to RSV and flu complications "especially if they have underlying medical conditions or were born premature."

"Our hearts go out to the family of this young child," said state public health officer and CDPH Director Dr. Tomás Aragón. "This tragic event serves as a stark reminder that respiratory viruses can be deadly, especially in very young children and infants."

The RSV season began "earlier than usual" this year, seeing a "rapid" increase in October instead of December. The flu season is also onto an early start, with 25 states already seeing "high" or "very high" levels of respiratory illnesses. Together with COVID-19, these illnesses have raised concerns of a "tripledemic" of respiratory diseases this winter.

"We are entering a busy winter virus season–with RSV, flu and COVID-19 spreading–and urge parents and guardians to vaccinate their children as soon as possible against flu and COVID-19," said Aragón.

The CHPD is reminding the public of the ways to protect oneself and others from these respiratory illnesses. This includes getting treated when one tests positive or soon after the symptoms begin, staying home if one feels sick and wearing a mask. It's also important to practice good hand hygiene and to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates there have been 2.8 to 6.6 million flu illnesses, 23,000 to 48,000 flu hospitalizations and 1,300 to 3,600 flu deaths between Oct. 1 and Nov. 5 alone. As for California, the CDC's weekly influenza surveillance report showed "high" activity levels in the week ending on Nov. 5.

flu season
Pedestrians pass the Verdugo Hills Medical Clinic where many people are being treated for the flu in Glendale, California, Dec. 27, 2005. David McNew/Getty Images