4 children in LA County diagnosed with rare inflammatory condition linked with COVID-19

Four children in Los Angeles County who have been diagnosed with a rare inflammatory condition also tested positive for COVID-19, officials reported Monday. There are nearly two dozen additional cases in the county being investigated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling the condition multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C. Most affected children have had current or recent coronavirus infections.

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Los Angeles County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said that all four children were found positive for the coronavirus through antibody testing.

An additional 21 suspected cases have been identified across the region since March 1 and the investigations into the COVID-19 connection in those cases are ongoing.

Three of the 24 children have required admission to a pediatric intensive care unit, according to Ferrer.

County health officials say they are working with hospitals to identify any additional cases.

“Fortunately, to date, here in LA County, there are no reported deaths. But as people have noted, this is a very serious illness, although very rare in children," said Ferrer during Monday afternoon's press briefing. 

MIS-C was first reported several weeks ago in the United Kingdom, the agency said. It has since been reported in at least 110 children in New York and in several kids in other states.

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While most fully recover, a few children have died.

“MIS-C may begin weeks after a child is infected with SARS-CoV-2,” the CDC states on its website. “The child may have been asymptomatically infected and, in some cases, the child and their caregivers may not even know they had been infected.”

While symptoms of MIS-C can vary from case to case, they can include a persistent fever, rash, conjunctivitis, stomachache, vomiting, diarrhea, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, swollen hands and feet, cracked lips and a tongue that is redder than usual, according to Harvard Health, a blog by the Harvard Medical School.

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Symptoms in some cases have been compared to Kawasaki disease, a rare condition in children that can cause swelling and heart problems.

Additional information on the illness can be found on the CDC's website.

FOX Television Stations' Kelly Hayes contributed to this report.