The Centers for Disease Control is investigating a possible hepatitis outbreak in children, including some here in New York State. The first outbreak occurred in Alabama in October of 2021. Five children, ages one to six years old, suffered from severe liver illness and failure. The virus has since spread to 109 children in 25 states, including New York State. The cause of the outbreak is currently unknown. The children have been affected severely with 90 percent being hospitalized and 14 percent needing liver transplants.

Five children in the United States have died from this particular hepatitis outbreak.

Photo by Artur Tumasjan on Unsplash
Photo by Artur Tumasjan on Unsplash

On a call about the investigation, Dr. Jay Butler, Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases mentioned that they are investigating whether the outbreak could be caused by pets. He said that the CDC is 'casting a wide net,' trying to determine the cause. Dr. Butler did say that none of the children had been vaccinated against COVID-19 and none of them reported any COVID-19 infections.

Laboratory tests identified that some of the children had adenovirus type 41, which is more likely to cause severe stomach illness in children.

While there has not been an increase in the baseline of hepatitis cases in children, the CDC is investigating due to the association with adenovirus infections. In the United Kingdom, there has been an increase in the number of children. Dr. Umesh Parashar, Chief, Viral Gastroenteritis Branch, Division of Viral Diseases said that the CDC is also examining whether social distancing due to the pandemic may have played a role in there being fewer infections of adenovirus in the past two years since children were not congregating as much.

However, the CDC says that adenovirus is not a known cause of hepatitis in normally healthy children. It has been associated with immuno-compromised children, however. The CDC ruled out the virus that causes COVID-19, bacteria, urinary tract infections, autoimmune hepatitis, and Wilson disease as causes of the outbreak in Alabama.

According to Today, the mysterious hepatitis virus has been confirmed in New York,

New York health officials are investigating a 'handful' of cases of hepatitis in kids with an unknown origin, NBC News reported in late April. The CDC said New York is one of the 24 states where it is investigating cases.

The CDC is working with state health officials to find the cause of the hepatitis outbreak. Parents should keep an eye out for symptoms of liver inflammation, including:

- fever
- fatigue
- loss of appetite
- nausea
- vomiting
- abdominal pain
- dark urine
- light-colored stools (poop)
- joint pain
- jaundice (yellowing of the skin)

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