US agency CDC outbreak of new childhood hepatitis may be caused by adenovirus

(ORDO NEWS) — Over the past few months in the state of Alabama (USA), nine children have been diagnosed with unusual hepatitis, that is, inflammation of the liver.

A similar infection has recently been described in 10 other countries. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that the causative agent was a pathogen that is commonly associated with gastrointestinal disorders, adenovirus type 41.

A number of cases of unusual hepatitis have been noted in Alabama (USA) in previously healthy children aged from one to six years. WHO specialists combine these cases with many others that have occurred in recent months in 11 countries.

In total, new hepatitis, which is most likely of an infectious nature, was registered in 170 cases. In the neighboring state of Wisconsin, there was a likely death associated with this infection.

Specialists from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) examined sick children and published the results at the end of last week.

Employees of this federal agency believe that hepatitis is indeed infectious in nature and is caused by a virus, namely adenovirus type 41, which is usually associated with gastrointestinal disorders.

Recall that adenoviruses are non-enveloped viruses whose genome is represented by double-stranded DNA. As a rule, human adenoviruses are transmitted through personal contact, airborne droplets and through contaminated surfaces.

Among more than 50 varieties of adenoviruses, there are causative agents of acute respiratory viral infections, diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and other infections.

Experts performed standard diagnostics and ruled out other possible causes, including autoimmune diseases, Wilson’s disease, Covid-19, and hepatitis A, B, and C viruses.

Six patients were found to have Epstein-Barr virus, but not antibodies to it: therefore, they have children were infected much earlier and it is not associated with hepatitis.

“We now believe adenovirus may be the cause of these cases, but remain open to environmental and other possible situational factors,” the CDC said in a statement.

US agency CDC outbreak of new childhood hepatitis may be caused by adenovirus 2
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It is important to note that the CDC report so far only concerns cases in Alabama, so these data cannot be interpreted more broadly.

The scientists also note that adenovirus type 41 is a previously known causative agent of gastroenteritis, that is, an inflammatory disease of the stomach and intestines, but “it is generally not considered a cause of hepatitis in healthy children.”

At the time of admission, most patients had vomiting and diarrhea, and some also had respiratory symptoms.

Already in the hospital, the skin of many children acquired a characteristic yellow tint, and the liver turned out to be enlarged.

The first case of the disease refers to October 2021, the last occurred in February 2022. Three children survived an episode of liver failure, two required transplantation.

Now all patients have recovered or are recovering – including those who have had a liver transplant.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Wisconsin, doctors are studying four similar cases. Two children suffered a serious condition, one underwent a transplant, and another died. Unusual childhood hepatitis has also been reported in other states, including Illinois.

Scientists and doctors continue to monitor the situation and recommend that parents make sure that their children have received all the necessary vaccinations and follow the rules of personal prevention.

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