The CDC issued a nationwide alert Thursday asking parents to be aware of any signs and to report any suspected cases to the appropriate state and local health departments.
The alert stated that the CDC was working with the state health departments to determine if additional cases are being reported in the United States. We recommend that children have all of their vaccines up-to-date and that caregivers of young children follow the same preventive actions we recommend for everyone. This includes washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, keeping the eyes and nose from getting sneezed, and keeping the hands and mouth clean. The CDC will provide additional information as it becomes available.
This news comes nearly six months after the health agency began investigating unusual cases of hepatitis among children. The state of Alabama reported nine cases of hepatitis among children aged between 6 and 12 years without any known cause since October 21, 2021. The World Health Organization also reported cluster infections in multiple countries including Ireland, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
Alabama's first five children with COVID-19 infections were not admitted to hospital. However, they did present with severe liver injuries and even liver failure. According to the CDC, four other children had the same liver conditions and also had an infection with adenovirus 41. This virus can lead to "pediatric acute gastroenteritis."
According to Johns Hopkins, hepatitis can be described as an inflammation of the liver. The symptoms of the infection include nausea, vomiting, fever, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite.
Although the investigation continues, researchers are unable to identify a common cause, exposure, or epidemiological evidence linking the cases in Alabama and those from overseas. According to the CDC, Adenovirus type 41 "is not known to cause hepatitis among otherwise healthy children," but investigators suspect the virus could be responsible for the cluster outbreaks.
The CDC said Thursday that investigators continue to learn more, including identifying possible causes and other contributing factors. "CDC and state public-health officials will continue to collaborate closely with clinicians to detect and prevent new diseases."