Healthy 4-year-old in Riverside County dies from flu
A 4-year-old child in Riverside County has died of the flu, bringing California’s death toll from influenza so far this season to 52.
The child, whose name has not been released by officials, had no underlying health issues and had not been vaccinated against the flu, according to Riverside County public health officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser.
“This is a tragic reminder that the flu can still kill, and that children are particularly susceptible to the illness,” Kaiser said in a statement. “Get your flu shot and get protected.”
The child, who lived in the southwest part of the county, died outside the county. Local officials were notified earlier this month.
Officials say that the strain of influenza going around this year — H1N1 — tends to be most dangerous for children and pregnant women.
Nationwide, 16 children have died from the flu this season, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said on Friday.
The flu season runs from October through May and typically peaks in February. Flu cases in California appear to be increasing in January, suggesting the season has not yet reached its height.
Officials encourage everyone over 6 months of age to get vaccinated. The vaccine takes about two weeks to take effect.
Last year’s flu season killed 185 children nationwide, 80 percent of whom were not vaccinated, according to the CDC.
The flu shot reduces a pregnant woman’s chance of catching the flu by 40% and provides immunity for her baby, experts say. People who receive the shot and then still catch the flu typically experience less severe symptoms.
Overall, this year’s flu season is expected to be less severe than last year’s.