Infectious Disease

CDC identifies more pediatric hepatitis cases, including one more death

Source/Disclosures

Disclosures:
Butler and Parashar report no relevant financial disclosures.

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The CDC has identified more cases of acute hepatitis with an unknown cause among children in the United States, including one more death.

Adenovirus infection has been implicated – but not proven – as the cause of the unexplained illnesses, which have also been reported in Europe.

The CDC said this week that it has received reports of 180 cases in 36 states and territories over the last 7 months — up from 109 cases reported as of 2 weeks ago.

In a telebriefing on Friday afternoon, Jay Butler, MD, the CDC’s deputy director for infectious diseases, reported one additional death among the patients, bringing the total number to six.

Butler said preliminary lab findings indicate there may be multiple strains of adenovirus 41 involved.

“However, we still need to complete whole genome sequencing, which will require mapping out all of the information from the virus,” Butler said.

The increase in cases does not represent a new surge. Most of the new cases were identified retrospectively and occurred as far back as October, the CDC said.

“The question of whether or not this is something that has been ongoing for even longer, and we’re just recognizing it now, I think is a very reasonable one,” Butler said.

Umesh Parashar, MD, chief of the CDC’s Viral Gastroenteritis Branch, said many experienced clinicians who have managed patients have spoken up.

“Many of them do say they are seeing something notable here,” Parashar said. “So, we are not dismissing it.”

“It’s important to note that severe hepatitis in children does remain rare,” Butler said. “While this investigation is ongoing, we encourage parents and caregivers to be aware of the symptoms of hepatitis — including vomiting, dark urine, light colored stools, and yellowing of the skin, also known as jaundice — and to contact their child’s health care provider if any of these symptoms develop.”

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