US hepatitis outbreak: Sixth child dies amid 180 cases, 15 of which need liver transplant

Another child has died in the mysterious hepatitis outbreak, health officials revealed on Friday, bringing the national total to six.

The deputy director of infectious diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed the death at a news conference on Friday, saying it was reported a day after the agency updated its death toll. case.

Dr Jay Butler did not reveal the place of death or the age of the child who died from hepatitis.

America has reported the most deaths of any country so far, with Indonesia reporting five and one each in Palestine and Ireland.

A total of 180 cases of hepatitis have also been detected in 35 states, with the disease more likely to be detected in more populated areas. There were also 15 liver transplants.

Globally, more than 500 cases have been detected in the outbreak, mostly in the UK and the US, likely because both countries have better surveillance systems.

The CDC said an adenovirus infection – which can cause the common cold – was their main hypothesis for the cause of the disease, although they were also still investigating the role of Covid infections.

They all but ruled out theories suggesting that a mutation in the virus could be causing the disease, or that it could be due to exposure to pet dogs. There is no evidence that the Covid vaccine triggers hepatitis.

The usual causes – hepatitis A, B, C, D and E viruses – have all been ruled out.

Dr Jay Butler revealed the death today at a CDC press conference

Dr Jay Butler revealed the death today at a CDC press conference

Dr Butler told the briefing that one additional death was reported on Thursday, which was the sixth case with a fatal outcome.

He said: “This case was reported yesterday, so it does not appear in the weekly report published on Wednesday.”

The CDC did not say where any of the deaths occurred, citing “privacy concerns,” although one was reported in Wisconsin.

Cases continue to be in children around two years old and “geographically dispersed” across the country.

They are more likely to be found in more populated states, which is likely due to the fact that there is a larger susceptible population there.

Q&A: What is the mysterious global hepatitis epidemic and what is behind it?

What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that is usually caused by a viral infection or liver damage caused by alcohol consumption.

Some cases resolve on their own with no lingering problems, but a fraction can be fatal, requiring patients to need liver transplants to survive.

What are the symptoms?

People with hepatitis typically experience fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, pale stools, and joint pain.

They can also suffer from jaundice – when the skin and the whites of the eyes turn yellow.

Why are experts concerned?

Hepatitis is generally rare in children, but experts have already spotted more cases in the current outbreak than they would normally expect in a year.

The cases are of “unknown origin” and are also serious, according to the World Health Organization.

What are the best theories?

Co-infection

Experts say the cases may be linked to adenovirus, commonly associated with the common cold, but more research is ongoing.

This, in combination with Covid infections, could be behind the spike in cases.

Around three-quarters of UK cases have tested positive for the virus.

Weakened immunity

British experts investigating the wave of illness believe the endless cycle of lockdowns may have played a contributing role.

The restrictions may have weakened children’s immunity due to reduced social mixing, leaving them at increased risk of adenovirus.

This means that even the “normal” adenovirus could be the cause of the serious consequences, because children do not react to it as they did in the past.

Adenoviral mutation

Other scientists said it may have been the adenovirus that had acquired “unusual mutations”.

This would mean that it might be more transmissible or better able to circumvent children’s natural immunity.

New Covid Variant

UKHSA officials included “a new variant of SARS-CoV-2” in their working hypotheses.

Covid has caused inflammation of the liver in very rare cases during the pandemic, although these have been in all ages rather than isolated in children.

Environmental triggers

The CDC noted that environmental triggers are still being researched as possible causes of illnesses.

These could include pollution or exposure to particular drugs or toxins.

But the CDC added that the vast majority of case reports it received were “historic,” with very few cases in the last month or so.

Of the 180 reported so far, about 13 (seven percent) are from the past two weeks, with the rest seven months old.

British experts say the wave of cases in their country – which was first to detect the outbreak – appears to have “peaked”.

But scientists say it is likely that some cases will continue to appear throughout the summer because transmission of the adenovirus is not seasonal and instead relies on people touching surfaces contaminated with feces.

In Wednesday’s update, 11 more states were revealed to have detected the disease, namely: Arkansas, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Virginia.

Previously, a total of 24 states had detected the virus, namely: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota , Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.

Puerto Rico has also reported at least one case of the disease.

Dr. Butler told the conference that the CDC still considers infection with adenoviruses to be the most likely cause of the cases.

But the agency was also looking at the role of Covid, noting that the upsurge in cases comes about two years into the pandemic.

About a fifth of the cases were found to have “exposure” to the pandemic virus, which was similar to the findings in the UK. Tests are underway to determine how many youngsters have antibodies from a previous infection.

The agency, however, has all but ruled out the theory that the upsurge in cases is due to a mutation in the adenovirus.

Dr Butler said tests revealed the patients were infected with several different strains of adenovirus type 41, suggesting it was not a change in the virus that was causing this.

They are also no longer seriously investigating the suggestion that pet dogs may be to blame for the cases following an investigation by health officials in the UK.

British experts had raised the possibility two weeks ago after finding that a ‘high number’ of sick children came from families who own dogs or have ‘exposures to dogs’.

However, the dogs have now been ‘kicked’ off the list of potential culprits there after scientists found ‘nothing to suggest’ they were involved.

During the briefing, the CDC stressed that it was not yet clear whether it was seeing an increase in real terms in childhood hepatitis cases.

They said about 1,500 to 2,000 cases result in hospitalizations among young people each year, about half of which have an undetermined cause.

The agency said it was still reviewing historical data to determine if this was an increase in real terms, but cases remained “rare” in the United States.

Health officials in the United States were first alerted to the outbreak when nine children in Alabama fell ill.

They were treated as an isolated case until the UK sounded the alarm last month after spotting a rise in cases within its borders.

Since then, the CDC has issued two alerts to clinicians telling them to be on the lookout for unusual hepatitis and to report any cases.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver usually triggered by infection with the hepatitis virus, although this is not the cause in these cases.

Symptoms include muscle aches, fever, nausea, exhaustion, and jaundice – or yellowing of the eyes or skin. It can also lead to abdominal pain.

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