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2 Utah children treated for widespread hepatitis outbreak

By Jamie Lampros - Special to the Daily Herald | May 25, 2022

Ron Harris, Associated Press

A sign at the entrance to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is seen, Tuesday, April 19, 2022, in Atlanta. Health officials remain perplexed by mysterious cases of severe liver damage in hundreds of young children around the world. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with other investigators in the U.S. and abroad, are trying to sort out what's going on.

Two Utah children younger than the age of 10 have been treated for a mysterious illness that causes hepatitis with no known cause.

The Utah Department of Health and Human Services stated the children are part of a worldwide pediatric hepatitis investigation. Because of privacy issues, officials will not identify where the children reside in the state.

Hepatitis causes inflammation in the liver and can lead to severe illness. Both children were hospitalized with serious illness but have since recovered.

“There are many causes of hepatitis, but evaluation of these children did not find a clear source,” said Dr. Leisha Nolen, state epidemiologist at DHHS. “While rare, children do get hepatitis and we don’t always know the cause. We are working closely with local health care providers, public health departments and (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to understand if these children became sick because of the same factors causing increased hepatitis in children across many parts of the world.”

Nolen said DHHS is strongly encouraging providers to report any suspected cases to public health for further investigation.

According to the CDC, there are approximately 180 cases across the country. Fifteen of those children required liver transplants and six died. While the cause is still unclear, researchers suggest the condition may be related to an infection with adenovirus type 41, which typically causes stomach illness or mild colds in kids.

“We understand parents may be concerned. Call your child’s health care provider if you’re worried about their health or symptoms they may be having,” Nole said.

Symptoms include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, dark colored urine, light colored stools, joint pain and yellowing of the skin. Nolen said frequent hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes and staying home when sick will help protect children and others in the community. Also check your child’s immunization records and make sure they are up to date.

To learn more, go to https://bit.ly/3GgF2qt.

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