FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Central Valley doctors are seeing many babies and kids are already getting sick with RSV, a respiratory cold and flu-like illness. Just this week, the California State Health Department confirmed a child under the age of five has died from the illness. 

“RSV is an illness that causes a lot of snot and mucus in the lungs and it can be a problem for for babies who have a tough time clearing that, and that’s when we see it impacting our premature infants as well as our young children,” Valley Children’s doctor Hailey Nelson said. 

Nelson said they started seeing an uptick in cases earlier than usual this year. Rather than the rise starting in November to December- they started seeing cases rise in October. While they’re feeling the impacts, they aren’t overwhelmed to the point where they can’t provide care. 

“The cases are on the rise, the numbers of children coming into the emergency room. I work in the outpatient clinic and the numbers of phone calls of parents calling and their children are getting sick, and needing help in how to manage this.” 

Nelson says premature babies and infants are most at risk for needing hospitalization. Many young kids who get RSV will have runny noses, sore throats, and low-grade fevers. She said if symptoms worsen, it can be best to call your doctor rather than just come into the ER. But if your baby or child can’t breathe well- then it’s time to take them in. 

Doctor Hovig Artinian with UCSF Fresno says they’re seeing a rise in their facilities too. He says for children, cases may decline over winter break when they’re away from school- but it could lead to a rise in infections from family gatherings. 

“I think we’re in the middle of it right now, we are certainly not toward the end of this storm, winter is going to continue to get a little bit colder.”

UCSF Fresno officials say to help keep your babies healthy- don’t let anyone with even a slight cold around your infants, wash your hands often, and get your flu shot because even if they’re too young, it could help keep them safe.