Child Hepatitis Cases of Unknown Origins Reported in Several States

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Child hepatitis cases of unknown origins have been reported in Minnesota and Wisconsin following a cluster of nine cases in Alabama over recent months.

On Wednesday, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced in a press release that it was looking into four such cases among children in the Badger State.

“This includes two children who had severe outcomes, one liver transplant, and one fatality,” the state health department.

“A possible association between pediatric hepatitis and adenovirus infection in children who tested negative for hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D, and E is currently under investigation worldwide,” the release added.

On Friday, Minnesota Department of Health Spokesman Dough Schultz said hospitals in the state have also reported child cases of the virus with an inexplicable origin, the Duluth News Tribune reported.

Pediatric Gastroenterologist Dr. Heli Bhatt of M Health Fairview in Minnesota noted that a baby recently underwent a liver transplant, WCCO reported. “At the time, doctors did not know to test for the cases of hepatitis and adenovirus popping up across the nation, but looking back, the baby’s case fits the criteria,” the outlet added.

Between October 2021 and February, health officials identified nine Albama children, aged one to six, who came down with hepatitis of an unknown origin that was accompanied by adenovirus infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced in its report.

“All nine children were patients at Children’s of Alabama,” the CDC said. “These patients were from geographically distinct parts of the state; no epidemiologic links among patients were identified.”

The CDC added:

All patients received negative test results for hepatitis viruses A, B, and C, and several other causes of pediatric hepatitis and infections were ruled out including autoimmune hepatitis, Wilson disease, bacteremia, urinary tract infections, and SARS-CoV-2 infection. None of the children had documented history of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Seven of the patients were girls, and no patients were immunocompromised, the CDC said.

The CDC noted:

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 viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C viruses [2]. Signs and symptoms of hepatitis include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, light-colored stools, joint pain, and jaundice [2]. Treatment of hepatitis depends on the underlying etiology.

In total, in excess of two dozen cases have been reported around the country, according to WCCO. There have been 100 confirmed cases throughout the globe, KMSP says.

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