Colorado reports cases of severe liver disease in children

NEW YORK (AP) — US health officials are investigating more than 100 possible cases of a mysterious and serious childhood liver disease, including five deaths.

About two dozen states reported suspected cases after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called on doctors to look for surprising cases of hepatitis. The cases date back to the end of October in children under 10 years of age. So far, only nine cases have been confirmed in Alabama.

Colorado reported four cases of pediatric hepatitis as of 5 p.m. Friday, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“All four meet the broad criteria in CDC’s call for potential cases, which includes all children 10 years and younger with hepatitis of unknown cause,” CDPHE said in a statement. “The first case, which CDPHE reported to CDC last month, dates back to December 2021. The patient tested negative for adenovirus at the time and has since recovered. Regarding the three new cases reported to CDC today, two of the three were hospitalized. One of these cases tested positive for adenovirus. None of the children needed a liver transplant and none died. They have all since recovered or improved. All four cases were in different parts of Colorado. We are unable to release additional information about these cases at this time.”

‘What causes the disease is not clear’

“We are casting a wide net to broaden our understanding,” said Dr. Jay Butler of the CDC Friday.

It is not clear what causes the diseases. Adenovirus was detected in half of the children, “but we don’t know if it’s the cause,” he said.

There are dozens of adenoviruses, many of which are associated with cold symptoms, fever, sore throat and pink eye. But some versions can cause other problems, including inflammation in the stomach and intestines. Officials are investigating a link to a particular version normally associated with intestinal inflammation.

This week, World Health Organization officials said they had reports of nearly 300 possible cases in 20 countries.

In the US, 94% of children were hospitalized and eight received a liver transplant.

“It’s still a very rare occurrence,” Butler said. “A majority of these cases have recovered and fully recovered.”

The mystery dates back to November, when health officials in Alabama began investigating the first of nine cases of severe childhood hepatitis in that state. None tested positive for the viruses that commonly cause hepatitis. However, the testing was positive for adenovirus.

Butler said none of the children in Alabama had been vaccinated against COVID-19. That has been ruled out as a possible cause, “and we hope this information helps clarify some of the speculation circulating online.”

Symptoms of hepatitis or inflammation of the liver include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, light-colored stools, joint pain, and jaundice.

In addition to Alabama, the states report suspected cases: California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas , Washington, Wisconsin. Puerto Rico also reported at least one case.

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