The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a new alert to keep doctors on the lookout for surprising cases of hepatitis. About two dozen states and territories have reported suspected cases, which date back to October in children under the age of 10.
ABC’s chief medical correspondent detailed Wednesday on “Good Morning America” what experts know about this outbreak and what symptoms parents should watch out for.
Note: This interview has been edited for clarity.
What do we know about this epidemic?
Ashton: The CDC issued an alert to health care providers two weeks ago. They are tracking these cases through October and expect that number to increase.
Hepatitis is a catch-all term for acute liver injury. In the current pediatric population, experts believe that most of these cases are associated with adenovirus 41, which is a common gastrointestinal virus, but not all.
MORE: CDC investigating more than 100 cases of unexplained hepatitis in children, including 5 deaths
Ninety percent of affected children required hospitalization. There were tragically five deaths and 14% of cases required liver transplantation.
This is an evolving situation that currently experts are in the stages of data accumulation and observation.
Is COVID-19 somehow involved?
Ashton: Experts do not think so. Remember that some of these children got COVID-19 by coincidence.
I just spoke to CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. She wanted me to point out that the majority of cases involved 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 from any virus. It is still unclear what is causing these cases.
Aren’t children here in the United States vaccinated against hepatitis?
Ashton: They are, but not this strain of hepatitis. There’s hepatitis A, B, C, and D. Those hepatitis cases aren’t one of them, so it’s confusing for public health officials at this point.
Right now the CDC is really increasing the alert for parents to be on the lookout for signs and symptoms.
What are some of the signs and symptoms?
Ashton: Symptoms include fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, joint pain and jaundice — yellowing of the white part of the eyes or skin or a change in the color of the face. urine or stool.
This should obviously lead parents to alert their pediatricians as soon as possible. I would like to point out that even if the cases are increasing, it remains very rare.
Awareness is essential.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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