The CDC says adenovirus may have caused an outbreak of acute hepatitis in Alabama in children 2022-04-29 13:12:34

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Structure of adenovirus, computer illustration showing the surface structure of the virus’s outer protein coat (capsid).

Katrina Kohn | Science Photo Library | Science Photo Library | Getty Images

US health officials said the adenovirus may have caused an outbreak of acute hepatitis that infected nine children in Alabama in February.

All nine children with severe acute hepatitis, three with liver failure, tested positive for adenovirus and none had a previous history. COVID-19 infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“At this time, we think adenoviruses mayo are the cause of these reported cases, but other potential environmental and situational factors remain under investigation.” An association or co-exposure has been found among these children.

The CDC on Friday released its most detailed findings yet on children, after issuing a nationwide health alert last week. She said adenovirus infection may be an unrecognized contributor to liver injury in healthy children but that further investigation is needed.

While hepatitis is not uncommon in children, the cluster of cases in Alabama surprised doctors because previously healthy children had severe symptoms and did not test positive for hepatitis.

Public health authorities in the United States and Europe are closely following cases of acute hepatitis in children after the United Kingdom alerted the World Health Organization earlier this month about a cluster of cases there. The World Health Organization has identified 169 cases worldwide so far, the vast majority of them in the UK

All nine children in the United States were patients at Children’s Hospital of Alabama, ages 2 to 6, according to the CDC. Three of the patients developed liver failure and two required a liver transplant. All of them have either recovered or are recovering.

Children’s prehospital symptoms included vomiting, diarrhea, and upper respiratory symptoms. Eight of the patients had scleral jaundice, yellowing of the whites of the eyes. Seven had an enlarged liver, six had jaundice and one had encephalopathy, a broad term for brain disease.

All children have tested positive for adenovirus, a common infection that can cause respiratory illness, upset stomach, pink eye and bladder inflammation or, in rare cases, neurological disease. Adenovirus is a known cause of hepatitis in children with compromised immune systems, but patients in Alabama all have normal immune systems and do not have significant health conditions, according to the CDC.

Although six of the children tested positive for Epstein-Barr virus, the CDC does not believe this was an acute infection because they were negative for the antibodies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all of the children tested negative for hepatitis A, B, and C viruses. None of them had a history of Covid-19 infection.

Doctors in Alabama identified the top five cases last fall. The CDC and the Alabama Department of Public Health launched an investigation in November. They identified four more cases in Alabama through February of this year. No additional cases have been identified in Alabama since February.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is closely monitoring the situation to better understand the cause of acute hepatitis in children and find ways to prevent the disease. The Public Health Agency told doctors to be aware that whole blood tests, rather than plasma, may be better at detecting the presence of adenovirus.

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