Orange County sees 1st case of child with psychosis linked to COVID-19

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- For the first time, Orange County is seeing a case of a child with psychosis linked to COVID-19.

Although relatively rare, medical experts have documented symptoms of psychosis in coronavirus patients around the world, including in Los Angeles.

Such patients may lose touch with reality, seeing or hearing things that aren't there, or experience bizarre thoughts and emotions.

Doctors think it may be related to inflammation that affects the brain.

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There are growing concerns over the mental impacts of COVID-19, and research is uncovering cases of severe psychosis tied to the virus.



Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, Orange County's deputy health director, said the condition can happen with any viral syndrome.

"The child is not acting themselves. They may see things, hear things, just act very different," she said. "Primarily we think it's an inflammation of the brain that occurs."

The case was observed as coronavirus infections continue to rise at a rapid rate in children around the country.

Chinsio-Kwong noted that all of the children who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in Orange County since July have been unvaccinated. In adults, more than 90% of the coronavirus patients have been unvaccinated.

She is asking parents to use caution to protect students as they return to school.

Even though younger children are not yet eligible for the vaccine, the adults around them are.

"If there are family members who are eligible to get vaccinated, please get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect the young ones who aren't vaccinated yet," Chinsio-Kwong said.

The county's director of Emergency Medical Services says things are heading in the wrong direction.

The amount of time ambulances are waiting at hospitals to drop off patients and diversions are slowly on the rise, said Dr. Carl Schultz.

Hospitals in low-income neighborhoods, areas bordering other counties and communities with fewer emergency rooms are seeing the greatest impact. Sometimes ambulances are waiting more than an hour before they can offload a patient at a hospital, Schultz said.

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