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Exclusive: 14-Year-Old Orange County Boy Hospitalized For COVID-19 Psychosis

ORANGE (CBSLA) — After 15 members of one Orange County family came down with COVID-19 in mid-June -- contracted they believe at an indoor birthday party -- the youngest of the group is still suffering aftereffects, even after recovering from the virus itself.

Exclusive: 14-Year-Old Orange County Boy Hospitalized For COVID-19 Psychosis
14-year-old Daniel Salinas is treated in Children's Hospital of Orange County for COVID-19 psychosis. August 2021. (Credit: family photo)

14-year-old Daniel Salinas developed COVID-19 psychosis, his family told CBSLA Sunday. It is a condition that can cause psychiatric symptoms, including hallucinations, in some COVID-19 patients after other symptoms have abated.

Salinas' mother, Wilma Singh, said shortly after her son recovered from COVID-19, she began to notice his behavior change. On Aug. 1, her son came down with a migraine headache.

"I felt like he had that severe migraine, slept and woke up a different person, someone who is more agitated, angry, anxious," Singh said. "That's the total opposite of my son."

The day after the migraine, Daniel's younger brother called her in a panic.

"He goes, 'Mommy, something's wrong with Daniel," Singh said. "'He's acting crazy. He's talking to himself.'"

Singh rushed her son to University of California, Irvine Medical Center in the city of Orange. Eventually, Daniel was transferred to Children's Hospital of Orange County, where doctors ran several tests to understand the drastic change in his behavior.

"You thought you survived COVID, but you're not thinking about the aftereffects of COVID," Singh told CBSLA.

Doctors said they are seeing more cases of COVID-19 psychosis. They blame the increase on the more infectious Delta variant. Emergency room physician Dr. Michael Daignault said he's seen COVID psychosis before, but usually in adults who are long-haulers.

"We're learning something new from COVID every day," Daignault said.

According to Daignault, COVID-19 psychosis tends to show up sooner in children. Daniel's onset with the condition came one month after he contracted the coronavirus.

"I think that their brains are just more susceptible to inflammation in the central nervous system, which is leading to these cases of psychosis in kids," Dr. Daignault said.

Singh said she wanted to share her family's story as a warning to watch for these less frequent, but dangerous consequences, of a COVID-19 infection.

"I want parents to know that it's very important to avoid getting COVID," Singh said. "I know you want to be out there, but it's not worth it."

Doctors aren't sure yet how much longer Daniel will need to remain in the hospital and plan to run more tests on the boy Monday.

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