Hepatitis In Children Remains A Mystery, 5 Dead

Marissa Newby

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched a wider investigation in the US related to the acute liver disease effecting pediatric populations since fall of 2021. A dozen states have reported hepatitis cases independent of the normal causes. In most of the children, adenovirus tests were positive.

The case numbers have risen steadily as doctors begin testing and reporting the conditions and the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) work together to gain a clearer understanding. Currently the numbers stand around 300 probable cases in 20 countries with 5 fatalities and 17 liver transplants among them.

It Is Not Related to The Vaccine

There is currently no correlation between the vaccine and the children suffering from the disease. In the initial cases in Alabama, none of the children with hepatitis had been vaccinated. Globally, according to the World Health Organization, the "vast majority of the affected children did not receive COVID-19 vaccination". In spite of what many are circulating as misinformation and conjecture amongst non-medical circles, no current vaccinations, including SARS-CoV-2 correlate to the infection. There are currently 3 working hypothesis behind the sudden increase in hepatitis.

During the first two years of the pandemic, the prevailing illness among viral infections was COVID-19. Adenovirus, flu and other common illnesses still existed. However, the majority of cases seen at hospitals and doctor's offices globally were related to COVID. One theory holds that because of this dip in adenovirus cases, and due to the findings that most of the children who have acute hepatitis are also positive for adenovirus is that during the pandemic, they gained some immunity to COVID but immunity to adenovirus waned.

Another theory is that both adenovirus and weakened immunity following COVID infectious have lead to prevailing disease pathology that had not been traditionally seen in previous waves of adenovirus. Essentially, concurrent adenovirus after COVID exposure could lead to new symptoms and worsening outcomes.

A third theory is that the acute liver disease is a product of a new adenovirus. Over 50 types of adenovirus have been immunologically identified and tracked by the medical and scientific communities. Although anyone can contract adenovirus, it is typically children who are affected due to community acquisition.

Thus far, as case information is compiled and as of late April, Adenovirus was detected in at least 74 of the cases, 18 of a particular type of adenovirus - F type 41. SARS-CoV-2 was identified in 20 cases. And 19 of the cases detected SARS-CoV-2 and adenovirus co-infection. Both the Netherlands and the UK have reported a significant increase in adenovirus. The US lags behind in testing and most of the information is now being acquired here in the states. The findings are similar to those in the UK.

The territories with active cases are as follows: California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Puerto Rico.

Symptoms

With 3 major considerations for the acute liver disease, any combination of symptoms is possible. However adenovirus and COVID have similar symptoms. Symptoms of adenovirus include common cold and flu symptoms, fever, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, pink eye, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Symptoms of most variants of COVID include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Symptoms of hepatitis include fever, malaise, loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, dark urine and yellowing of the skin and eyes.

If you or your child are experiencing any combination of these symptoms, you are encouraged to test. Seek medical attention when necessary. If your child is not behaving, eating or functioning normally it could be a medical emergency and you need to seek help. Delaying care, especially if your child progresses into symptoms of hepatitis can be fatal.

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Marissa, a graduate safety practitioner and paramedic, has been writing and editing fiction and non-fiction work for 15 years. She delivers researched and sourced news concerning world events, public health, public safety and emergency management.

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