Warning over hepatitis outbreak causing rare liver damage in young children and leaving them needing a transplant

Warning over hepatitis outbreak causing rare liver damage in young children and leaving them needing a transplant

THE Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking doctors across the US to beware of cases of severe hepatitis in children.

Some kids have become so ill that they required liver transplants, according to an April 21 health advisory from the CDC.

To date, nine cases have been reported in Alabama and two were identified in North Carolina, according to their respective health departments.

In Europe, dozens of cases were also reported in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Spain and the Netherlands. A similar advisory was posted by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Experts from both agencies said they aren’t sure what’s causing the spike in cases.

Hepatitis causes inflammation of the liver, causing diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. 

Some of the children in Alabama also suffered jaundice and signs of elevated liver enzymes, according to their blood tests.

Despite at least two children becoming so ill that they required a liver transplant, no deaths were reported, the CDC advisory said.

The children were between ages one to six and were previously healthy with no underlying conditions, officials said.

Two “school-aged” children in North Carolina developed severe hepatitis but have since recovered, said Baily Pennington, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services in the state.

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“No cause has been found and no common exposures were identified,” she said in a statement.

Children between ages two and five are among the reported cases in Europe.

In the US, all clinical labs are required to report viruses such as hepatitis type A, B, C, D and E so health authorities can stop outbreaks.

Investigators said that neither of the cases had anything to do with Covid-19 or the vaccines.

“None of the children in the cluster tested positive for Covid-19 disease. None had previously reported Covid-19 disease,” said Dr Karen Landers, a health officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health.

“None of the children received the Covid-19 vaccine.”

Experts believe the outbreak could be the result of a virus that isn’t usually associated with hepatitis – the adenovirus type 41.

The CDC says this particular virus can cause vomiting and diarrhea in children, even causing respiratory symptoms similar to the common cold.

Adenoviruses are spread through close contact, said experts. They can also lead to gastroenteritis and neurological diseases.

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“While there have been case reports of hepatitis in immunocompromised children with adenovirus type 41 infection, adenovirus type 41 is not known to be a cause of hepatitis in otherwise healthy children,” said the CDC.

The CDC said they are investigating a potential link between adenovirus infections and pediatric hepatitis.

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