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Health officials announce infant who died tested positive for RSV

Fri, 19/01/2024 - 04:00

Vaccines urged as safeguard against RSV and other respiratory illnesses

An infant from southwest Riverside County who died earlier this month tested positive for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), health officials announced.

The infant was less than 1 year old and died at a local hospital after being taken there with respiratory difficulties. No other information about the infant is being released.

“Public Health mourns the loss of any life, but the death of a child is particularly difficult,” said Kim Saruwatari, director of Public Health. “It is a loss for the community and reminds us to rededicate ourselves to doing what we can to prevent such tragedies.”

The death occurred at a time when respiratory cases, including RSV, influenza and COVID-19, can be found throughout Riverside County and the country. An increase in cases is typical this time of year because holiday travel and celebrations put people in close contact for long periods of time. One of the best protections against those illnesses is a vaccination, but recent data indicates vaccine rates in Riverside County are lower than in past years.

“My heart goes out to the family grieving this terrible loss,” said Board Chair Chuck Washington, Third District. “This time of year it is especially important to remember precautions to stay healthy and consider getting vaccinated against the flu and RSV.”  

Health officials are urging people who are 32 through 36 weeks pregnant during September through January get one dose of maternal RSV vaccine to protect their babies. Immunization is also recommended for infants younger than 8 months of age who were born during or are entering their first RSV season if the mother did not receive RSV vaccine during pregnancy.

Everyone 6 months or older should be vaccinated against the flu. The current COVID-19 vaccines provide protection against the latest variants and are available to those 6 months or older. 

In addition to vaccinations, the public is encouraged to protect themselves by washing their hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, and disinfecting frequently used surfaces.

While RSV and other respiratory illnesses are generally not life threatening, for younger children and older adults, as well as people with certain health conditions such as asthma, diabetes and obesity, respiratory viruses can cause more severe disease and may require additional medical care.

For more information about respiratory illnesses, visit