CDC and ECDC Are Investigating Clusters of Hepatitis Cases in Children

Some cases lead to severe liver damage and even transplants.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health advisory Thursday after identifying a cluster of hepatitis and adenovirus infections in U.S. children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking physicians nationwide to be on the lookout for unusual cases of severe hepatitis in children. The agency issued a health advisory (Health Advisory: Provides important information for a specific incident or situation.): Nine cases have been reported in Alabama, and an additional two have been identified in North Carolina, according to those states’ health departments. Dozens of such cases have also been identified in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Spain, and the Netherlands, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) announced this week. Hepatitis and Adenoviruses Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver, which is a vital organ that processes nutrients, filters the blood, and fights infections. When the liver is inflamed or damaged, its function can be affected. Most often, hepatitis is caused by a virus. Adenoviruses are a common type of virus spread from person to person that can cause a range of mild to more severe illnesses, but they’re only rarely reported as a cause of severe hepatitis in healthy individuals. How Adenoviruses Spread and How to Avoid Them It’s easy for infected individuals to spread adenoviruses to others. There are several ways adenoviruses can spread, according to the CDC, including:

  • Close personal contact, like shaking hands;

  • Coughing and sneezing;

  • Touching surfaces with adenovirus on it then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes; and,

  • Contact with stool, for example, while changing diapers.

Investigators also say neither Covid-19 nor the Covid vaccines have anything to do with the hepatitis cases. Children Stricken in the United Kingdom Scientists are also investigating a series of unexplained hepatitis cases in young children in Scotland and other parts of the UK, some of which have been linked to adenoviruses, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in an April 15 statement. As of April 7, there were 10 cases of severe acute hepatitis in children under the age of 10 in Scotland, WHO reported. As of April 8, the number of UK cases identified had risen to 74. Six children required liver transplants, but no deaths had been reported as of April 11, WHO said. Lab tests have excluded several different types of hepatitis viruses as the cause of these cases, WHO said. “Given the increase in cases reported over the past one month and enhanced case search activities, more cases are likely to be reported in the coming days,” WHO said in the statement.


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