Cases of Mysterious Hepatitis Identified in American Kids | by heidi

Cases of Mysterious Hepatitis Identified in American Kids | by heidi


    On April 21, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a nationwide medical alert after children in four states were diagnosed with severe hepatitis.

    The cause of the illness is still unknown, leaving healthcare professionals confused about why otherwise healthy children are developing serious liver disease.1

     Hepatitis: Types, Symptoms, and Treatments

    The new cases of hepatitis in American kids are far from the first to be reported. Early warnings of mysterious clusters of hepatitis cases in kids started coming from Europe last fall.

    As of early May, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 169 cases worldwide, with 17 children requiring a liver transplant, and one case resulting in a child’s death.2

    In the United States, five states have reported a total of 25 cases in children as of April 29.

    Nine children in Alabama, all under the age of 6, developed severe inflammation of the liver (hepatitis). Three children developed acute liver failure and two needed liver transplants.3

    Cases have also been reported in California, Illinois, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.

     How Hepatitis Is Diagnosed

    What Is Hepatitis?

    Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver that’s caused by a virus or another medical condition.

    People can develop hepatitis from:

    Heavy alcohol and drug use

    Certain medications (e.g., high doses of Tylenol)


    Genetic disorders

    Overactive immune system4

     What Causes Hepatitis?

    Viral hepatitis is the most common type of hepatitis in the U.S. There are five viruses typically associated with hepatitis:

    Hepatitis A: This type is linked to contaminated food and water. It can also be spread through oral-anal sex. It usually does not cause life-long illness, and there is a vaccine available for it.

    Hepatitis B: This type is linked to contaminated blood and bodily fluids. It is usually spread through sex and is considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI). There is a vaccine available for it.

    Hepatitis C: Is linked to contaminated blood (e.g., needles, blood transfusions). If it’s not treated, it can become a chronic infection. There is no vaccine available for it.

    Hepatitis D: Is linked to contaminated blood or bodily fluids but can only be contracted by a person that already has hepatitis B, therefore, getting vaccinated against hepatitis B can help prevent it.

    Hepatitis E: Linked to contaminated food or water but can be spread through the oral-anal route as well. It is rare in the U.S. and there is no vaccine.5

    It’s not uncommon for kids to be infected with a hepatitis virus, but most do not have symptoms (asymptomatic) or only have mild illnesses—especially if they are young and healthy.

    Vaccinations for hepatitis A and B have added a layer of protection for children who might be exposed. These vaccines were added to the national immunization schedule in 1980 and 1995, respectively. There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C, D, or E.6

     The 5 Types of Viral Hepatitis

    A Possible Viral Link

    The three most common types of viral hepatitis have been ruled out in the new cases of hepatitis in children.

    Global public health investigators have started looking for what else the children might have had in common. One thing they looked for right away was infections.

    While the children have tested positive for various viruses—including Epstein-Barr virus, rhinovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, and COVID-19—one virus seemed to be more common among them than the others.

    At least 74 of the children with hepatitis have tested positive for a common adenovirus.

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