Sixth Child Dies amid Hepatitis Outbreak with Unknown Cause

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Another child died in connection to an outbreak of hepatitis across the nation and the world, health officials said Friday after reporting the deaths of five children are under investigation.

Those looking into the matter were told about the recent death on Thursday, according to Dr. Jay Butler, who is the deputy director for infectious diseases with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ABC News reported.

“Unfortunately, the illness in many of these patients is severe … and the extent of the injury to the liver can be quite extensive. And so, this is clearly a severe disease that we’re taking very carefully for that reason, and the proportion of these, despite treatment, do unfortunately die,” explained Dr. Umesh Parashar, chief of the viral gastroenteritis section of the agency’s Division of Viral Diseases.

Hepatitis is a term that describes inflammation of a person’s liver, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine:

Liver inflammation can be caused by several viruses (viral hepatitis), chemicals, drugs, alcohol, certain genetic disorders or by an overactive immune system that mistakenly attacks the liver, called autoimmune hepatitis. Depending on its course, hepatitis can be acute, which flares up suddenly and then goes away, or chronic, which is a long-term condition usually producing more subtle symptoms and progressive liver damage.

Among the symptoms are malaise, fatigue, jaundice, abdominal pain, and nausea.

Officials are looking into approximately 180 cases of the severe illness among children in 36 states and territories, the ABC report said, adding that “Fifteen of the 180 children who are connected to the investigation in the U.S. have required a transplant.”

Officials have also been working alongside clinicians and state and local public health partners to uncover more data, but it will take time to evaluate the resulting evidence, Butler noted.

The main hypothesis is adenovirus and evidence suggests it could have played a part, but the matter is still being probed.

In a press release on Wednesday, the CDC explained severe hepatitis among children is rare but urged parents and caregivers to be on alert for any symptoms.

Meanwhile, Butler also emphasized a connection to the coronavirus vaccine appears “really unlikely to be playing a direct role” due to the fact most of the children were too young for the shot, the ABC report concluded.

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