NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. health officials are investigating more than 100 possible cases of a mysterious and serious liver disease in children, including five deaths.
About two dozen states have reported suspected cases after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an appeal to doctors to be on the lookout for surprising cases of hepatitis. The cases date back to the end of October in children under 10 years old. So far, only nine cases in Alabama have been confirmed.
Colorado reported four cases of pediatric hepatitis as of 5 p.m. Friday, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
“All four meet the general criteria for the CDC’s call for potential cases, which includes all children ages 10 and younger with hepatitis of unknown cause,” the CDPHE said in a statement. “The first case, which the CDPHE reported to the CDC last month, was in December 2021. The patient then tested negative for adenovirus and has since recovered. Of the three new cases reported to the CDC today, two out of three were hospitalized. One of these cases tested positive for adenovirus. None of the children required a liver transplant and none died. They have all since recovered or are improving. The four cases were in different parts of Colorado. We are unable to disclose additional information on these cases at this time. »
“The cause of the disease is unclear”
“We’re casting a wide net to broaden our understanding,” CDC Dr. Jay Butler said Friday.
The cause of the diseases is unclear. Adenovirus was detected in half of the children, “but we don’t know if it is the cause,” he said.
There are dozens of adenoviruses, many of which are associated with cold-like symptoms, fever, sore throat, and pink eyes. But some versions can trigger other problems, including inflammation of the stomach and intestines. Officials are exploring a link to a particular version that’s normally associated with gut inflammation.
This week, World Health Organization officials said they had reported nearly 300 probable cases in 20 countries.
In the United States, 94% of children were hospitalized and eight received liver transplants.
“It’s still a very rare occurrence,” Butler said. “The majority of these cases recovered and made a full recovery.”
The mystery dates back to November, when Alabama health officials began investigating the first of nine cases of severe hepatitis in children in that state. None tested positive for the viruses that commonly cause hepatitis. However, the test was positive for adenovirus.
Butler said none of the Alabama children had been vaccinated against COVID-19. This has been ruled out as a possible cause, “and we hope this information will help clarify some of the speculation circulating online.”
Symptoms of hepatitis, or inflammation of the liver, include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, pale stools, joint pain, and jaundice .
Besides Alabama, states reporting suspected cases: California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio , Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin. Puerto Rico has also reported at least one case.
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