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15 L.A. County children sickened by rare coronavirus-related inflammatory syndrome

A test kit is passed through the car window at the Anaheim Convention Center.
A test kit is passed through the car window at the Anaheim Convention Center on July 11.
(Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)

A rare but serious and potentially deadly inflammatory syndrome believed to be associated with the coronavirus has now been identified in 15 children in Los Angeles County, officials said.

Of the children, 73% were Latino, representing a disproportionate burden for the ethnic group. Latino residents are the largest ethnic group in L.A. County, making up about half of the county’s residents. Nationally, about 70% of the cases of the inflammatory syndrome have been either Latino or Black patients.

Multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, can cause different parts of the body to become inflamed, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs. Symptoms include fever, pain in the abdomen, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes and exhaustion.

The syndrome has also been called pediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome, or PIMS.

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Most of the children developed MIS-C about two to four weeks after being infected with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the CDC says. “Many questions remain about why some children develop it after a COVID-19 illness or contact with someone with COVID-19, while others do not,” the agency said.

No one who has experienced the syndrome has died in L.A. County. But the syndrome is potentially deadly. As of July 15, the CDC received reports of 342 cases and six deaths related to the inflammatory syndrome. Of them, at least 99 cases and two deaths were in New York state, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

The two deaths in New York state involved children 12 or younger, the medical journal said, who were admitted to the hospital with abdominal pain and fever, a high heart rate and low blood pressure.

In L.A. County, the median age of those experiencing the syndrome was 8½ years old. County officials said 40% were 5 or younger ; another 40% were between 6 and 12; and the remaining 20% were between 13 and 20.


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