CDC issues alert for cluster of severe hepatitis in children

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CDC issues alert for cluster of severe hepatitis in children

Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr. Rochelle Walensky at a Senate hearing in Washington, D.C., on  May 19, 2021. On Thursday, the CDC issued a health advisory on pediatric hepatitis after a cluster of cases at an Alabama children’s hospital. Pool photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI | License Photo

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory Thursday after identifying a cluster of hepatitis and adenovirus infections in U.S. children.

A cluster of children at a large children’s hospital in Alabama in November 2021 had the rare significant liver injury, the CDC said. That included three with acute liver failure. They also tested positive for the adenovirus.

The advisory notifies U.S. clinicians who may encounter kids with hepatitis of unknown etiology to consider testing for adenovirus.

The CDC said such cases should be reported to state public health authorities and to the CDC.

All of the children in the Alabama cluster were previously healthy and none had COVID-19, according to the CDC.

The advisory said so far a total of nine children were admitted from October 2021 through February 2022 with liver damage at the Alabama hospital.

The CDC said two required liver transplants and none of the patients died.

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver that can be caused by viral infections, alcohol use, toxins, medications and certain other medical conditions. In the United States, the most common causes of hepatitis are hepatitis A, B and C viruses.

Symptoms of hepatitis include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, light-colored stools, joint pain, and jaundice.

The CDC said adenoviruses are double-stranded DNA viruses that spread by close personal contact, respiratory droplets and fomites. There is no specific treatment for adenovirus infections.

The World Health Organization is investigating severe liver infection cases in kids internationally, including in the United States and Britain.

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