A Perris child died from complications from the flu, marking the first death originating in Riverside County in the current influenza season, health officials said Wednesday.

“We should never forget that the flu still kills,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county’s public health officer. “I always recommend people get their flu shots every year, but a death so early in the flu season suggests this year may be worse than usual. Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones who are grieving.”

Riverside University Health System officials said the child, who was 4 years old, suffered underlying maladies and was taken to a hospital outside of the county for treatment in recent weeks, but could not be saved.

Officials could not confirm whether the child, who was not identified, had received a flu vaccination.

During the 2018-19 influenza season, nine people died from flu-related complications in Riverside County, and in the prior season, 23 died, according to RUHS.

The flu is a respiratory illness marked by fever, coughing, sore throat, fatigue, head and body aches. Vomiting and diarrhea are also known to occur.

According to health officials, frequent hand-washing and “social distancing” — avoiding someone exhibiting symptoms — are sure methods to preclude contracting the flu, which is passed through droplets from a sick person’s cough or sneeze.

People fighting infections should minimize contact with others until their symptoms abate.

Flu shots are available at the Riverside University Medical Center in Moreno Valley, at any of the county’s 10 health clinics, as well as most pharmacies and doctors’ offices.

Flu season generally spans early fall to early spring.

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