Today, the Center for Disease Control announced an unexplained hepatitis outbreak that has infected 109 children. So far, the outbreak has left five children dead, and lead to 15 pediatric liver transplants.
The hepatitis outbreak covers 24 states and Puerto Rico and has required over 90% of infected children to be hospitalized.
The CDC is currently investigating the spread of this disease which is incredibly rare in children. While nothing conclusive has been reported, the possibility exists that the 109 cases reported in the US might be part of a larger world-wide hepatitis outbreak.
The CDC is investigating 109 cases of hepatitis in young children in the U.S. Five children have died. The agency stressed that the disease was very rare in children and that while a cause had not been determined, most had fully recovered. https://t.co/2LRsf3QXyM
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 6, 2022
The CDC’s deputy director of infectious diseases, Dr. Jay Butler, reminds the public that this investigation is ongoing and continues to evolve. He also stressed the importance of cooperation between the CDC and state health departments and points out that not all of the reported cases are assumed to all have the same cause.
Butler said, “It’s important to note that this is an evolving situation, and we are casting a wide net to help broaden our understanding.”
The UK has also been affected and has recorded over 160 cases. Both the US and the UK, while skeptical, are pursuing a hypothesis that exposure to animals, specifically dogs, may be a cause. Experts agree that the link is unlikely considering but they agree that it’s worth al least ruling out.
According to Butler, the hepatitis outbreak was not caused by the COVID-19 vaccination. The average age of all 109 children infected was two years, which means the majority of them were ineligible for vaccination. That being said, the CDC is currently looking into any possible connection between the outbreak of hepatitis and the Corona virus.
Butler said, “We know this update may be of concern, especially to parents and guardians of young children. It’s important to remember that severe hepatitis in children is rare.” Butler and the CDC recommend that parents use the same preventative measures and precautions they would use to protect against any other virus: washing hands frequently, wearing a mask if showing symptoms, avoiding contact with others, and covering coughs and sneezes.
Hepatitis symptoms include yellowing of the skin, dark urine, vomiting, and light colored stool.