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IDPH Issues Update on Potential Cases of Severe Hepatitis in Children in Illinois

News – Wednesday, May 25, 2022

A total of nine potential cases have been reported to IDPH Dating to January; Illinois Healthcare Providers Advised to be on the Lookout and Report Potential Cases to Public Health Authorities

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced today that it has received reports of a total of nine patients under investigation for severe hepatitis in children under ten years of age, up from three that were reported in April.

The cases date back to January, and the most recent had the onset of symptoms in May. Two-thirds of the children tested positive for adenovirus, a common virus that typically causes cold- or flu-like illness. Five patients were reported in northern Illinois, two were in the western part of the state and one each was reported in the central and southern parts of the state. All of the children were hospitalized, and one needed a liver transplant. No deaths were reported.

The IDPH update follows a recent briefing by the CDC about a total of 180 pediatric patients under investigation over the past seven months across the United States.

IDPH has been working with Illinois healthcare providers to learn of other suspected potential cases in the state and has asked providers to be on the lookout for symptoms and to report any suspected cases of hepatitis in children of unknown origin to local public health authorities. IDPH is working with involved local health departments to collect and send available specimens to CDC for further laboratory testing to look more closely at the virus genome and other potential pathogens, such as SARS-CoV-2.

The CDC said that 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 and can be caused by viruses. These cases appear to have an association with adenovirus 41. Adenoviruses spread from person-to-person and most commonly cause respiratory illness, but depending on the type, can also cause other illnesses such as gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach or intestines), conjunctivitis (pink eye), and cystitis (bladder infection). Adenovirus type 41 typically presents as diarrhea, vomiting and fever, and is often accompanied by respiratory symptoms. While there have been case reports of hepatitis in immunocompromised children with adenovirus infection, adenovirus type 41 is not known to be a cause of hepatitis in otherwise healthy children.

CDC has been working with state health departments to identify additional U.S. cases, and to learn what may be causing these cases. At this time, CDC said it believes adenovirus may be the cause for these reported cases, but investigators are still learning more – including ruling out other possible causes and identifying other possible contributing factors.

CDC is asking physicians to consider adenovirus testing using PCR or NAAT on respiratory samples, stool or rectal swabs and whole blood for pediatric patients with hepatitis of unknown origin, and to report any possible cases of hepatitis of unknown origin to CDC and state public health authorities.

In addition, CDC is encouraging parents and caregivers to be aware of the symptoms of hepatitis, and to contact their healthcare provider with any concerns. CDC continues to recommend children be up to date on all their vaccinations, and that parents and caregivers of young children take the same everyday preventive actions that it recommends for everyone, including washing hands often, avoiding people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding touching the eyes, nose or mouth.

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