While New Jersey has yet to register a case of the mysterious childhood hepatitis, state health officials are wary as the series of serious liver infections grows in the US and around the world.
“At this time, the New Jersey Department of Health is not aware of any cases involving children in New Jersey. We are monitoring any reports of possible cases,” a health ministry spokeswoman said in an email.
About 30 cases of unexplained hepatitis have been reported in 10 US states and nearly 300 possible cases have been identified worldwide. Most patients live in the UK.
The cases have baffled experts. They may be associated with the adenovirus — a virus that can cause the common cold — but their origin remains unclear.
Here’s what you need to know:
In October and November, five children were admitted to an Alabama hospital with “severe hepatitis and adenovirus,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC, along with Alabama’s state and local health departments, began an investigation.
More cases soon surfaced across the country, in Europe and now Asia.
Hepatitis – inflammation of the liver – is a serious disease that is often caused by viruses and can be life-threatening.
In April, the CDC issued a nationwide health alert “to notify clinicians and public health authorities of a cluster of children identified with hepatitis and adenovirus infection — and to ask all physicians to be alert for symptoms and report suspected cases of hepatitis.” of unknown origin to their local and state health departments.”
There are nearly 300 known cases of “acute hepatitis of unknown origin” worldwide. In the US, Alabama, California, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Wisconsin have identified potential patients.
According to the World Health Organization, Belgium, Denmark, France, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom have also seen cases.
They range from 1 month to 16 years old, the WHO says.
The infections have resulted in four deaths. At least 17 children have required a liver transplant, and one could be needed in as many as 10% of cases, according to the WHO.
Children have experienced fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Many had jaundice – a yellowing of the skin or eyes – and were discovered to have abnormally high levels of liver enzymes.
The adenovirus is the prime suspect.
“Adenovirus has been detected in at least 74 cases… SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus) was identified in 20 cases of those tested,” WHO says. “In addition, 19 were detected with SARS-CoV-2 and adenovirus co-infection.”
But “although adenovirus is currently hypothesized as the underlying cause, it does not fully explain the severity of the clinical picture,” the WHO added.
Even more curious, the virus is not known to cause these kinds of illnesses.
“Infection with adenovirus type 41, the adenovirus type involved, has not been previously associated with such a clinical presentation,” the WHO said.
What is an adenovirus?
Adenoviruses are common viruses that cause a range of diseases, according to the CDC. Cold symptoms, fever, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, and conjunctivitis can result from an adenovirus infection.
The virus usually spreads through respiratory droplets or contact with infected surfaces.
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