Unexplained hepatitis has killed five children across the US, as over 100 mysterious pediatric cases have been diagnosed across the country.
The US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday that it’s investigating the 109 cases of severe hepatitis found in children in 24 states and Puerto Rico. Cases being investigated date back to October of last year.
Several of the children needed liver transplants and five died. Nearly all of the children, about 90%, needed to be hospitalized while facing the illness.
Hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver, can be caused by a variety of things, but in most cases it is caused by viruses. Most of the children infected were about two years old.
Dr Jay Butler, the deputy director of infections diseases with the CDC, said the investigation into the infections is ongoing, and that the federal agency is pairing with state health departments in its efforts.
‘We are casting a wide net to help broaden our understanding,’ Butler said during a Friday news conference.
Nearly 300 cases of hepatitis have now been found in 20 countries, although scientists have been left dumbfounded by what is causing the illness, as the usual hepatitis A, B, C, D and E viruses haven’t been found in laboratory test results.
‘Investigators both here and across the globe are hard at work to determine the cause,’ Butler added.
Adenovirus, which can trigger the common cold, has been detected in more than 50% of cases. Health officials have not yet determined whether this is the cause of these hepatitis cases.
Many of the recent cases have involved drastic symptoms such as vomiting, dark urine and jaundice, or yellowing of the eyes and skin.
Last month, the CDC alerted doctors in the US to nine unusual cases of hepatitis found in children living in Alabama. The agency asked doctors to report any similar cases. The numbers shared Friday, which have now topped 100 and include five deaths, follow their call to health officials to be on the lookout for such cases.
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