The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigate over 100 severe hepatitis cases in children across two dozen states, including five deaths. According to the CDC, over 90% of the children were hospitalized, and 14% required liver transplants. The cases occurred over the past seven months across 25 states and territories. Fortunately, most of the patients have fully recovered and were discharged from the hospital.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver often caused by viral infections, but environmental factors can also play a role. It is not uncommon in children but usually isn’t severe.
The CDC stated that the kids didn’t have hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D, and E in the initial investigation. The agency hasn’t documented a significant increase in hepatitis cases in kids or liver transplants, but that could change based on the data. The U.K., which first alerted the world of the issue, has documented a significant increase.
The CDC is investigating cases in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Adenovirus Infection Detected
More than half of the children had a confirmed adenovirus infection. However, the CDC doesn’t know if adenovirus is the actual case. Adenovirus is a common virus that causes mild cold or flu-like symptoms or stomach and intestinal problems. It isn’t a known cause of severe hepatitis in healthy children but is in kids with weakened immune systems. The U.S. doesn’t have a good national system for surveillance of the virus. And as of now, the country hasn’t seen a rise in adenovirus infections.
“We also don’t know yet what role other factors may play, such as environmental exposures, medications, or other infections that the children might have,” Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC, said on Friday.
Does COVID-19 Impact These Numbers?
Butler clarified that the COVID-19 vaccination is not the cause of the illnesses. Due to their ages, most of them were not eligible to receive the vaccine. But the CDC is still investigating whether there’s any association with the COVID-19 virus. In addition, none of the children from the initial nine cases in Alabama had COVID-19.
“We know this update may be of concern, especially to parents and guardians of young children. It’s important to remember that severe hepatitis in children is rare,” Butler said. Parents should take the standard precautions for preventing viral infections, including hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, not touching the eyes, nose or mouth, and avoiding people who are sick, he said.
Severe Hepatitis Symptoms
Parents should watch out for the following symptoms:
- dark urine
- light colored stool
- yellowing of the skin
Please contact your health provider with any concerns.
The CDC issued a nationwide health alert about severe hepatitis cases in late April. WHO also closely monitors the situation and identifies cases in at least eleven countries.