What You Need To Know About the Hepatitis Outbreak in Children
On April 21, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a nationwide alert to physicians and healthcare providers about a group of children in Alabama diagnosed with hepatitis and adenovirus. Hepatitis refers to inflammation in the liver, and adenovirus is a common virus that can cause several different, usually mild, illnesses.
The nine children identified in Alabama were cared for between October 2021 and February 2022, and all were found to have adenovirus infections. Two children went on to require liver transplants. There have been cases reported in Europe as well where most children – but not all – had an adenovirus infection. While the exact cause of the hepatitis outbreak in children is still uncertain, the CDC is working closely with all related health departments in the United States and Europe to identify the cause.
What are the symptoms of hepatitis?
Symptoms of hepatitis include:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Dark urine
- Light-colored stools
- Joint pain
What are the symptoms of adenoviruses?
Adenoviruses are most commonly upper respiratory viruses, but they can present in the following ways:
- Common cold symptoms
- Flu-like symptoms
- Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
- Acute bronchitis
- Sore throat
- Gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach lining), which could cause vomiting and diarrhea
What should I do to protect my child from hepatitis and adenoviruses?
Parents should be reassured that most children who get common viral infections will not become seriously unwell. Good handwashing is the most important step families can take to prevent the spread of viral infections, like adenovirus.
What should I do if my child presents with these symptoms?
If your child develops jaundice or other symptoms of hepatitis, contact your pediatrician for the best course of action. The largest and most comprehensive program in the region, Ochsner Hospital for Children’s Pediatric Liver Program are experts in the diagnosis and management of children with liver disease.
Currently, there are no reported cases of hepatitis and adenovirus in the state of Louisiana, but Ochsner Hospital for Children is closely monitoring the latest from the CDC and the WHO and will keep our community informed if anything changes.
For more information on the hepatitis outbreak, please visit the World Health Organization’s website here.