The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a new alert for doctors to be on the lookout for surprise cases of hepatitis. About two dozen states and territories reported suspected cases dating back to October in children under the age of 10.
ABC’s Chief Medical Correspondent detailed Wednesday’s Good Morning America what experts know about this outbreak and the symptoms parents should monitor.
Note: This interview has been edited for clarity.
What do we know about this outbreak?
Ashton: The CDC issued an alert for healthcare providers two weeks ago. They are tracing those cases back to October and expect that number to increase.
Hepatitis is a collective term for acute liver damage. In the pediatric population, experts currently believe that most of these cases are associated with adenovirus 41, which is a common gastrointestinal virus, but not all.
MORE: CDC is investigating more than 100 cases of unexplained hepatitis in children, including 5 deaths
Ninety percent of the affected children had to be hospitalized. Tragically, there were five deaths and 14% of cases required a liver transplant.
This is an evolving situation that experts are currently collecting and monitoring.
Is COVID-19 somehow involved?
Ashton: Experts do not believe so. Keep in mind that some of these kids happened to have COVID-19.
I just spoke with CDC Director Dr. Spoken to Rochelle Walensky. She wanted me to emphasize that most cases have occurred in children between the ages of 2 and 5. These children, as we all know, are not eligible for the COVID vaccine, so this outbreak has nothing to do with the vaccine.
Right now, researchers can see cases of hepatitis after any virus. It is still unclear what causes these cases.
Aren’t children vaccinated against hepatitis here in the US?
Ashton: They are, but not this hepatitis strain. There’s hepatitis A, B, C, and D. These cases of hepatitis aren’t one of those, so it’s a mystery to public health officials at this point.
Right now, the CDC is increasing parental awareness to watch for signs and symptoms.
What are some of the signs and symptoms?
Ashton: Symptoms include fever, tiredness, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, joint pain and jaundice – a yellowing of the whites of the eyes or skin, or a change in the color of your urine or stools.
This should obviously prompt parents to alert their pediatricians as soon as possible. I want to stress that although cases are increasing, this is still very unusual.
Awareness is the key.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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https://abc13.com/children-hepatitis-outbreak-kids-adenovirus/11837601/ Why do children get hepatitis? CDC Issues New Warning About Deadly Outbreak; Signs of liver disease in children