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Wisconsin investigating cases of unusual hepatitis in children, one death

A child is examined at a doctor's office.
A child is examined at a doctor's office.(25 News / Heart of Illinois ABC)
Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 6:51 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 29, 2022 at 5:07 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - Wisconsin has issued a Health Advisory in connection to cases of acute hepatitis and adenovirus infection in children.

The Department of Health Services is investigating at least four cases among children in Wisconsin. One of the children died. One required a liver transplant.

From November 2021 to February 2022, doctors at a children’s hospital in Alabama identified nine pediatric patients with the condition. All of those children were previously healthy. Two patients died and two required transplants. In response, the CDC issued an advisory to clinicians to consider adenovirus testing in pediatric patients with the hepatitis.

Cases of the mystery hepatitis infection have been reported in several countries.

The cause of this increase in cases is under investigation. The state did not identify a location of the cases or anything about the patients.

“A possible association between pediatric hepatitis and adenovirus infection in children who tested negative for hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D, and E is currently under investigation worldwide. This Health Alert serves to notify U.S. clinicians who may encounter pediatric patients with hepatitis of unknown etiology to consider adenovirus testing and to elicit reporting of such cases to state public health authorities and to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT, e.g., PCR) is preferred for adenovirus detection and may be performed on respiratory specimens, stool or rectal swabs, or blood,” reads a statement from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

“Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver that can be caused by viral infections, alcohol use, toxins, medications, and certain other medical conditions. In the U.S, the most common causes of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C viruses,” health officials say.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HEPATITIS:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Light-colored stools
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice

“There is no specific treatment for adenovirus infections. Adenovirus type 41 commonly causes pediatric acute gastroenteritis, which typically presents as diarrhea, vomiting, and fever; it can often be accompanied by respiratory symptoms. While there have been case reports of hepatitis in immunocompromised children with adenovirus type 41 infection, adenovirus type 41 is not known to be a cause of hepatitis in otherwise healthy children,” health officials say.

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