Pediatric Hepatitis

Update: Pediatric Hepatitis in New York State – June 2022

On April 21, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a nationwide health alert to notify clinicians and public health authorities about a cluster of children identified with hepatitis and adenovirus infection, advising all physicians to be on the lookout for symptoms and to report any suspected cases of hepatitis of unknown origin to their local and state health departments.

NYSDOH, working with local and federal public health authorities, including the CDC, has also been investigating cases of pediatric hepatitis in children younger than age 10 to determine if any may be related to the illness that has been reported in Europe and the United States. CDC has a map of the current investigation across the United States. Some of these cases have led to severe outcomes including the need for liver transplants or death.

What do health officials suspect is causing cases of pediatric hepatitis?

These cases of pediatric hepatitis are of unknown origin and some of these cases tested positive for adenovirus. Adenoviruses usually cause respiratory illnesses or conjunctivitis, and outbreaks can occur throughout the year. There is no specific time of year when adenovirus infections and outbreaks are more common.

Due to genetic testing of adenoviruses found in sick children, adenovirus type 41 has been suspected as a potential cause of this hepatitis in children. This infection typically presents as diarrhea, vomiting and fever, 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.

What are the symptoms, and what can parents, guardians, and caregivers do?

Hearing about severe liver disease in children can be concerning. If you have any questions about your child's health, you should call your child's healthcare provider. Additionally, CDC advises parents and guardians to be aware of the symptoms of liver inflammation, which include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dark Urine
  • Light-colored stools
  • Joint Pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes or skin)

Parents and guardians should also keep children up to date on all their vaccinations, including the COVID-19 vaccine. New Yorkers can help children take everyday actions to help prevent disease, including washing hands often, avoiding people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes, and teaching kids to avoid touching the eyes, nose, or mouth.

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