May 6, 2022 - Health

CDC investigating 109 cases of hepatitis in children, including 5 deaths

Signage stands outside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S, on Saturday, March 14, 2020. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday said it is investigating 109 possible cases of severe and unexplained hepatitis in children, including five deaths, the Washington Post reported.

Driving the news: Twenty-four states and one territory have reported suspected cases of the liver disease dating back to October, according to the AP. However, only nine cases in Alabama have been confirmed so far.

  • Over 90% of patients were hospitalized and 14% had to receive liver transplants, according to the Post.

The big picture: As of May 1, there have been at least 228 probable cases reported in 20 countries, Dr. Philippa Easterbrook said at a World Health Organization briefing earlier this week. Another 50 cases are under investigation, she said.

  • While the cause of the severe cases of hepatitis remains unknown, Easterbrook said there could possibly be a link to the adenovirus. Adenoviruses can cause a variety of illnesses from cold or flu-like symptoms to pink eye and pneumonia, according to the CDC.
  • Jay Butler, the deputy director for infectious disease at the CDC, said on Friday that the adenovirus was detected in about half of the children in the U.S., according to the AP.
  • What’s causing the illnesses isn’t clear. Adenovirus was detected in half the children, “but we do not know if it is the cause,” Butler added.
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