The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating 109 cases of severe hepatitis in children, including five deaths, to determine the cause, with adenovirus infection as the main line of investigation, the public health agency said Friday.
According to the CDC, more than 90% of children were hospitalized and 14% required a liver transplant. The cases under investigation have occurred over the past seven months in 25 states and territories. According to the CDC, most patients were completely cured and were discharged from the hospital.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that is often caused by viral infections, but environmental factors can also play a role. This is not uncommon in children, but is not usually difficult.
More than half of the children had a confirmed adenovirus infection. However, CDC officials said they did not yet know if the adenovirus was the real cause. Adenovirus is a common virus that usually causes mild symptoms of colds or flu, as well as problems with the stomach and intestines. It is not known to cause severe hepatitis in healthy children, although it has been linked to the disease in children with weak immune systems.
“We also don’t yet know what other factors may play, such as environmental exposure, drugs or other infections that children may have,” Dr. Jay Butler, CDC’s deputy director of infectious diseases, told reporters. call on friday.
Vaccination against Covid-19 is not the cause of the disease, Butler said. The children had a mean age of two years, meaning most were not eligible for the vaccine. The CDC is still investigating whether there is a link to the Covid-19 virus, Butler said. However, the first nine cases in Alabama of children with severe hepatitis did not have Covid.
According to the CDC, hepatitis A, B, C, D and E viruses were not detected in children during the initial studies.
According to available data, there is no increase in adenovirus infections in the United States, Butler said. However, Dr. Umes Parashar, a CDC staffer, said there was no good national system in the United States to monitor the virus. Butler said the CDC is working to improve its monitoring.
The CDC has also not documented a significant increase in cases of hepatitis in children or liver transplants, but this is based on preliminary data and may change, according to Butler. However, Britain – the first to warn the world about the problem – has documented a significant increase, he said.
“We know that this update may be of concern, especially to parents and guardians of young children. It is important to remember that severe hepatitis in children is rare,” Butler said. Parents should follow standard precautions to prevent viral infections, including washing their hands, covering up coughing and sneezing, not touching their eyes, nose and mouth, and avoiding people who are sick, he said.
Symptoms of hepatitis include vomiting, dark urine, light stools and yellowing of the skin. Parents should contact their healthcare provider with any concerns, Butler said.
In late April, the CDC issued a nationwide warning of severe hepatitis among nine children in Alabama. The World Health Organization is also closely monitoring the situation and has identified cases of severe hepatitis of unknown cause among children in at least 11 countries.
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, Nebraska, and New York. Rico, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.
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