May 20, 2022

Child Hepatitis Cases Reported in Wisconsin With One Death

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is issuing a Health Alert Network Health Advisory because child hepatitis cases and  adenovirus infections have been reported in that state. Officials are investigating at least four cases in Wisconsin. One child needed a liver transplant and one child died.

Child Hepatitis Cases Reported in Wisconsin With One Death

This alleged outbreak was first reported in Alabama from November 2021 to February 2022, where nine children were sickened. Two of those children needed liver transplants. Then, three cases were announced in Illinois on April 25, 2022, with one liver transplant reported. More than 100 cases of severe hepatitis in children under the age of 10 have been reported around the world.

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver that can be caused by alcohol use, toxins, medications, some medical conditions, and most commonly by viral infections. The most common case of viral hepatitis in the United States are hepatitis A, B, and C viruses.

Signs and symptoms of hepatitis include fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, abdominal pain, especially in the upper right quadrant, light-colored stools, diarrhea, and jaundice, which is yellowing of the eyes and skin. Treatment depends on the cause.

There is no specific treatment for adenovirus infections. Adenovirus 41 usually causes pediatric acute gastroenteritis with symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. There have been cases of hepatitis in immunocompromised children with adenovirus 41 infections, but this virus is not known to be a cause of hepatitis in otherwise healthy children.

Clinicians should consider adenovirus testing in pediatric patients with hepatitis of unknown cause. Those cases should be reported to public health officials.

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