The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a new health alert as the number of cases of pediatric hepatitis continues to mount across the country, leaving researchers befuddled about its origin.
On Wednesday, May 11, the CDC offered an update as it continues to investigate pediatric cases of hepatitis that have an unknown etiology in the US.
According to officials, the investigation is focusing on "collecting information to describe the epidemiology, etiology, clinical presentation, severity, and risk factors related to illness and to identify any relationship between adenovirus infection or other factors and hepatitis.”
As of Thursday, May 5, the CDC said that the agency was still investigating 109 children with hepatitis across 25 states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Delaware in the Northeast.
Of the cases, more than half have tested positive for adenovirus - which can cause cold- or flu-like symptoms - and more than 90 percent have been hospitalized.
During the investigation, 14 percent of patients required liver transplants, and five deaths have been recorded.
The median age of the most severe cases was among children who were approximately 2 years old. Officials also noted that there is no connection to COVID-19 or virus-related vaccines.
Researchers said that they have not found any links to a specific geographic area, or exposure to certain foods, animals, travel destinations, or toxins.
The CDC noted that “because this investigation is ongoing and includes reviewing cases of hepatitis of unknown cause with onset since October 2021, patients under investigation are not limited to current or newly diagnosed pediatric hepatitis illnesses.”
“Hearing about severe liver disease in children can be concerning. If you have any questions about your child’s health, call your child’s healthcare provider," the CDC wrote regarding its investigation, adding that parents should be aware of the symptoms associated with liver inflammation that include:
- Loss of appetite
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin);
- Abdominal pain;
- Dark urine;
- Joint pain.
"At this time, the cause of the reported illnesses in these children is still unknown. While adenovirus has been detected in some children, we do not know if it is the cause of the illness," CDC officials said.
"We do not know and are investigating what role other factors play in this illness, such exposure to toxins or other infections that the children might have."
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