5 US Children Die of Mystery Liver Illness; CDC Investigates 100 Possible Cases as 2 Dozen States Report Disease

Adenovirus has been ruled in as a probable cause for the mystery illness but more underlying reasons are being investigated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has started investigations into at least 100 possible cases and 5 deaths linked to the growing number of mysterious child hepatitis cases across the country.

Dr Jay Butler, CDC's deputy director for infectious diseases, during a media briefing on Friday revealed details on the investigations by informing that all cases were reported in October and the children were under 10 years of age. He further disclosed that nine out of ten children who had been hospitalized were all healthy and had not been suffering from any chronic medical condition.

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Previously only nine confirmed cases were reported from Alabama out of any US state but in the past few days almost two dozen states have reported surprising cases of hepatitis across the country, CDC has cautioned the doctors to keep an eye out for any unusual cases of liver inflammation and related problems in children where there is no identifiable cause, NBC news reported.

Dr. Jay Butler said: "We are casting a wide net to broaden our understanding," explaining more that the cause of the disease has still not been determined but Adenovirus is a possibility, however more investigations are required because, "we do not know if it is the only cause."

Dr Jay Butler
Dr Jay Butler Wikimedia Commons

Currently 109 cases are being examined, a majority of them have been hospitalized and around 14 have undergone liver transplantation. In the United States, most of the patients were toddlers, out of them 8 had received liver transplants.

The World Health Organization discovered nearly 300 probable cases in around 20 countries just this week, as per US news reports. Dr Philippa Easterbrook, an infectious disease physician with the WHO, said on Thursday, "there's no link to one geographic area, common exposure to particular foods or animals, travel or to toxins. We are looking at all possible infectious and non-infectious causes."

According to the Daily Mail, CDC officials are also examining if contact with animals, especially pet dogs could be one of the underlying causes. They arrived at this conclusion after careful consideration of majority of children infected with the mystery illness, who were living with pet dogs or had been in contact with animals.

Mysterious Liver Illness

However, many health experts have advised against this link due to the commonness of dog ownership in United States. Dr Butler said: "The investigation of the persons under investigation in the US does include questions about animal exposure as well. We really are casting a broad net and keeping an open mind in terms of whether the adenovirus may affect an innocent bystander or whether there may be cofactors that are making the ad manifest in a way that has not been commonly seen before."

Adenovirus remains the leading hypothesis, as it had been detected in nearly all cases currently being investigated by US health officials.

The Daily Mail revealed that countries like Austria, Germany, Poland, Japan and Canada have also reported suspected cases with children coming down with symptoms of fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, light-colored stools, joint pain and jaundice. Parents have therefore been advised to be on the lookout for any of these symptoms.