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The number of children with hepatitis of unknown cause is increasing in the country.

hepatitis of unknown cause

While rare, children can still have severe hepatitis, and the cause is not always known. That's why researchers continue to look for possible causes and research into the growing number of minors with hepatitis of unknown cause, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC.

The federal agency detailed that the number of people under investigation for hepatitis of unknown cause are, as of June 1, 246.

That number, CDC explained, does not mean that person is a confirmed case. 

States and CDC are looking broadly - including cases of hepatitis of unknown cause in children under 10 years of age, beginning in October 2021 - so this number may increase or decrease as they review medical records and obtain more information.

It should be noted that, so far, 38 states in the country have detected cases of hepatitis of unknown cause, including California.

Background

On Thursday, April 21, 2022, CDC issued the Health Alert Network Health Advisory Notice (HAN) to notify physicians and public health authorities of children identified with hepatitis and adenovirus infection.

At that time, a cluster of pediatric cases of significant liver injury with positive adenovirus infection was identified and reported to CDC since November 2021. A possible association between pediatric hepatitis and adenovirus infection is currently under investigation after subsequent laboratory testing identified adenovirus type 41 infection in several cases. 

Given this, the agency recommended that physicians consider testing pediatric patients with hepatitis of unknown etiology for adenovirus and report such cases to public health authorities in their state or jurisdiction and to CDC.

What parents should know about the current investigation of hepatitis of unknown cause in children

While rare, children can still have severe hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) and we do not always know the cause. It is not uncommon for the cause of hepatitis in children to be unknown; some estimates suggest that 30 to 50 % of hepatitis cases in children are due to unknown causes.

Researchers are still trying to understand hepatitis of unknown cause

At this time, the cause of hepatitis in the children in question is still unknown. Some of the more common causes of hepatitis, such as hepatitis A or B viruses, have been ruled out for this investigation. Some children tested positive for adenovirus, a common virus that usually causes flu- or cold-like illness, or stomach or intestinal problems. While some children with hepatitis tested positive for adenovirus, it is not yet known if it is the cause of the hepatitis cases.

The CDC has stressed that it is examining other infections, such as COVID-19, and other factors, including exposure to toxins, to see if they might be involved. "We're asking parents a lot of questions about exposure to products and things in the environment, but so far these kids have nothing in common"Most of the children under investigation are about 2 years old; and were not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, so they are not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.COVID-19 vaccination is not the cause of these diseases.

This is a rare but serious event

Hearing about hepatitis in children can be worrisome, but severe hepatitis in children remains rare. Cases of hepatitis in children over the past few years appear stable and are small numbers overall. 

Parents should contact their child's health care provider if he or she has the symptoms listed below, especially jaundice - yellowing of the skin or eyes.

Watch for symptoms of liver inflammationThe following symptoms are present: jaundice, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, light-colored stools (feces), and joint pain.

In turn, call to keep your child up to date on all immunizations.

Another way to prevent illness is to wash your hands frequently, avoid people who are sick, cover coughs and sneezes, and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

You may be interested in: CDC investigates first reported case of monkeypox in U.S.


Pamela Cruz
Pamela Cruz
Editor-in-Chief of Peninsula 360 Press. A communicologist by profession, but a journalist and writer by conviction, with more than 10 years of media experience. Specialized in medical and scientific journalism at Harvard and winner of the International Visitors Leadership Program scholarship from the U.S. government.

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