Mysterious ‘Severe’ Liver Disease Found In Healthy New York Kids
Health officials are starting to worry after potentially fatal liver issues of "unknown" origins have been detected in "previously healthy" New York children.
In Mid-April, the World Health Organization confirmed reports of cases of "acute, severe hepatitis of unknown origin in young children" in Europe. Since the initial report, the WHO confirmed children around the world, including in the United States, have gotten this mysterious illness
"It is not yet clear if there has been an increase in hepatitis cases, or an increase in awareness of hepatitis cases that occur at the expected rate but go undetected. While adenovirus is a possible hypothesis, investigations are ongoing for the causative agent,' the WHO Disease Outbreak News stated.
As of April 21, the WHO reported at least 169 cases of acute hepatitis of unknown origin have been reported from 11 countries, including at least nine in the United States.
Many of the sick children are under the age of 10. Cases are aged 1 month to 16 years old, according to the WHO. Seventeen children required a liver transplant and at least one death has been reported.
“What is particularly unusual is that the majority of these children were previously healthy,” Dr. Philippa Easterbrook, a medical expert with the WHO's Global HIV Hepatitis and STI Programme, said during a press conference.
Mysterious 'Severe' Liver Disease Found In Healthy New York Kids
There are now at least 20 cases in the United States, including New York, ABC News reports. Officials from six states, New York, Alabama, Delaware, Illinois, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, confirmed severe hepatitis in children. Most children are under the age of 10, many are under the age of 5.
At least 4 children needed a liver transplant. At least one child died, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported.
'Handful' of Childhood Hepatitis Cases in New York State
NBC reports that "a handful" of childhood hepatitis cases have been reported in New York State.
The CDC confirmed an investigation is underway.
"(The) CDC is monitoring the situation closely to understand the possible cause of illness and identify potential efforts to prevent or mitigate illness. Enhanced surveillance is underway in coordination with jurisdictional public health partners. Clinicians are encouraged to report possible cases of pediatric hepatitis with unknown etiology occurring on or after October 1, 2021, to public health authorities for further investigation," the CDC stated.
Most cases did not have a fever. Many cases reported gastrointestinal symptoms including abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting preceding presentation with severe acute hepatitis, and increased levels of liver enzymes and jaundice, the WHO reports.
"The clinical syndrome among identified cases is acute hepatitis (liver inflammation) with markedly elevated liver enzymes. The common viruses that cause acute viral hepatitis (hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D and E) have not been detected in any of these cases. International travel or links to other countries based on the currently available information have not been identified as factors," the WHO states.