Childhood Hepatitis Cases Detected in Illinois, Canada, Japan

April 27, 2022

A growing number of cases of severe childhood hepatitis have been detected in the United States and around the world. The cause of the cases is still uncertain.

At least three cases were found in Illinois, making it the third state to report such cases.

Two cases were reported in suburban Chicago and one in western Illinois, with all children under age 10, the Illinois Department of Public Health said in a press release. One child needed a liver transplant.

While no cause has been given, all cases may have been associated with a strain of the adenovirus — a common cold virus — according to the press release.

Previously, nine cases were found in Alabama and two in North Carolina. Last week, the CDC issued a nationwide warning, urging doctors to look for symptoms of pediatric hepatitis that may be related to the common cold virus. The CDC advised doctors to consider adenovirus testing in children with hepatitis when the cause is unknown.

In Canada, authorities have detected cases of hepatitis in children, but they have not said how many, Global News reported, citing the Public Health Agency of Canada.

“These are under further investigation to determine if they are linked to cases in the United Kingdom and the United States,” the health service told Global News. “As the investigation progresses, we will keep the public informed accordingly.”

In Japan, a child with severe hepatitis has been hospitalized in what is believed to be the first case in Asia, CNBC reported, citing Japan’s Ministry of Health.

The World Health Organization said more than 160 cases of acute hepatitis in children had been detected worldwide as of April 21. The United Kingdom had 114, Spain 13, Israel 12, Denmark 6, Ireland at least 5, Netherlands 4, Italy 4, Norway 2, France 2, Romania 1 and Belgium 1.

One child of the infected died and 17 had to undergo a liver transplant.

The common viruses that cause acute viral hepatitis — hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D, and E — were not found in any of the cases. International travel and other land-based links have also not been identified.

Adenovirus, a common cold virus, has been detected in at least 74 cases, the WHO said. In 20 cases a COVID-19 infection was diagnosed and in 19 cases an infection with both COVID-19 and an adenovirus. CNBC reported that health experts are investigating whether the children are vulnerable to hepatitis as they are during the pandemic lockdowns.

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