Hepatitis Jump Among Children Concerns CDC

Infection is the leading suspect, but agency says it's 'casting a wide net'
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 6, 2022 5:05 PM CDT
CDC Investigates Baffling Hepatitis Cases in Children
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will work with states to find the cause of a hepatitis outbreak.   (AP Photo/Ron Harris)

The startling rise in unexplained hepatitis cases in children officially has the interest of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency announced Friday that it's investigating 109 cases in 24 states and Puerto Rico, including five deaths, for which the cause is unknown. The CDC had issued a nationwide alert two weeks ago—when just 11 cases had been reported—for physicians to watch for similar instances of liver inflammation in children. The World Health Organization said it knows of at least 228 such cases in 20 countries, NBC News reports.

"Investigators both here and across the globe are hard at work to determine the cause," said Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases for the CDC. Adenovirus has been found in more than half the cases, per CNN, but its exact role in the illnesses isn't known. Most of the patients were healthy until they developed symptoms. "It's very odd to see a child who's healthy come in with the amount of liver injury that these kids had," said a physician in Alabama who's dealt with cases. Eight of the 109 children have needed liver transplants; most were hospitalized.

Environmental factors are being considered as a possible cause, as are exposure to animals and prior coronavirus infections. UK investigators said Friday they're testing for drugs, toxins, and environmental factors. They suggested an infection of some sort is the most likely cause, however; adenovirus showed up in more than 70% of the 163 cases there. "It's important to note that this is an evolving situation, and we are casting a wide net to help broaden our understanding," Butler said. (Read more hepatitis stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.