Hepatitis Outbreak in Children

Figure 1: “States and Jurisdictions Reporting at Least One Person Under Investigation (38)* as of June 1, 2022.” CDC

The State of Alabama has had a lot of firsts; the first open-heart surgery in the Western Hemisphere was performed in Montgomery in 1902, in 1968 the first 911 call was placed from Haleyville, AL, and unfortunately in 2021 amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic Alabama identified their first case of a new Hepatitis outbreak among children under the age of 10. Children in Alabama began to fall ill with symptoms of Hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver that can cause jaundice, fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, joint pain, and more symptoms. Despite the mysterious onset and widespread unconnected cases under investigation doctors and other researchers are still trying to pin down the direct cause. The onset of symptoms has not been shown to be related to COVID-19 or its vaccinations, as once thought could be the case. Now, research points to the outbreak possibly being related to a new adenovirus strain. As of June 1, 2022, the outbreak and cause are still under investigation, with 246 cases under investigation of children under the age of ten showing symptoms of hepatitis with an unknown cause across 38 different states with 6 deaths since October 2021. Unfortunately, as is frequently the case with outbreaks, cases have been seen beyond the borders of Alabama or the United States where it started, with cases of hepatitis with an unknown cause among children being reported across the globe with roughly 650 cases spread across 33 different countries. Doctors and researchers are working to determine the cause of the outbreak in order to curb the case count, but until then check out our podcast and the resources below to help you stay informed on the latest happenings in Infection Prevention and Control.

Listen to a podcast from Dr. Wes Stubblefield, District Medical Officer for the Northern and Northeastern Public Health Districts at the Alabama Department of Public Health on this recent outbreak of pediatric hepatitis.

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