Hepatitis in kids outbreak: Warning to Colorado doctors

More than 100 possible cases of a mysterious and severe liver disease in children have been reported in the U.S.

DENVER — Five cases that meet the criteria of a mysterious viral hepatitis have been reported in Colorado, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)

Health experts and doctors are working to learn more about the hepatitis — a severe liver disease — that has been detected in more than 100 children and caused five deaths in the U.S.

What’s causing the illnesses isn’t clear. 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.

“We are casting a wide net to broaden our understanding,” said CDC’s Dr. Jay Butler.

In October 2021, five pediatric patients with hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) of unknown cause were first identified in children at a hospital in Alabama. More cases have now been reported in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain.

In addition to Colorado, the states reporting suspected cases: California, Alabama, 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.

Adenovirus has been detected in half the cases in the U.S., “but we do not know if it is the cause,” said Butler.

There are dozens of adenoviruses, many of them associated with cold-like symptoms, fever, sore throat and pink eye. But some versions can trigger other problems, including inflammation in the stomach and intestines. Officials are exploring a link to one particular version that’s normally associated with gut inflammation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

RELATED: Severe child liver disease cases suspected in these 24 states; 5 children have died

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