NNPH Reports First Flu-Associated Death of 2023-24 Flu Season

Dec 1, 2023

Reno/Sparks, Nev. Dec. 1, 2023 – Northern Nevada Public Health (NNPH), formerly Washoe County Health District, is reporting the first influenza-associated death in Washoe County for the current flu season: A female in her 70s with underlying health conditions.

  • This is the first flu-associated death since January of 2023.
  • Flu and respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus (RSV) cases have been increasing steadily since Oct. 1, 2023, in Washoe County and nationwide.
  • 27 influenza-associated hospitalizations have been reported among Washoe County residents since Oct. 1, 2023.
  • As of last week, there have been a total of 192 RSV cases reported in Washoe County, with most being under the age of 18.

Those considered to be at a higher risk of serious complications from respiratory disease include young children, older adults, pregnant women and anyone with a chronic health condition. Healthy people can experience severe complications as well.

People are advised to get the flu vaccine if they have not already, stay home from work or school if sick, and wash your hands with warm water and soap frequently.

“The way it’s trending, we expect to see increases in both influenza and RSV throughout 2023,” said Kevin Dick, District Health Officer in Washoe County. “With the winter season upon us, there are more group gatherings and more time spent inside with less ventilation, which increases the chances of disease transmission. If you haven’t received a flu or COVID-19 vaccine yet, now is a great time. And for those in sensitive groups like those aged 60 years and older, people who are pregnant, and infants, check with your doctor about the new RSV vaccine.”

See the NNPH flu surveillance page

Vaccines are available

If you have insurance, www.vaccines.gov is a popular website to use to schedule both flu and COVID-19 vaccines that are free or low cost. For those uninsured or underinsured, NNPH can help with immunizations.

For the new RSV vaccine, call local pharmacies or your medical provider to check for availability. The CDC recommends the vaccine for people aged 60 or older, people who are 32-36 weeks’ pregnant entering RSV season in October, infants aged 8 months and younger born during or entering their first RSV season, and infants and children aged 8-19 months who are at increased risk for severe RSV disease and entering their second RSV season. Learn more from the CDC.

Flu basics

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. People 65 years and older, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at higher risk of serious flu complications. Learn more from the CDC.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever/feeling feverish or chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

According to the CDC, the virus is most easily spread from person to person when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk to another in close proximity. The person with flu is contagious approximately one day before symptoms appear and up to 5-7 days after. Learn more about how the virus spreads.

RSV basics

Per the CDC, RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious.

People infected with RSV usually show symptoms within 4-6 days after infection. According to the CDC, symptoms of RSV infection usually include:

  • Runny nose
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Wheezing

Per the CDC, these symptoms usually appear in stages and not all at once. In very young infants with RSV, the only symptoms may be irritability, decreased activity, and breathing difficulties. Almost all children will have had an RSV infection by their second birthday.

Please note the Washoe County Health District changed its name to Northern Nevada Public Health on Aug. 31, 2023. More information is here.

Northern Nevada Public Health (NNPH) is nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board and has jurisdiction over all public health matters in Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County through the policy-making District Board of Health. NNPH consists of five divisions: Administrative Health Services, Air Quality Management, Community and Clinical Health Services, Environmental Health Services and Epidemiology & Public Health Preparedness. More info can be found here.