The Massachusetts Department of Public Health recently announced that it is investigating two cases of pediatric hepatitis in the state. DPH works with local boards of health, health care providers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While the department says no further details have been released about these cases, the investigation shows a clear continuation of a broader effort to find out more about the mysterious cases of hepatitis in children.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. It is usually due to one of the hepatitis viruses – hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. However, these viruses have been ruled out as the cause of new cases of hepatitis, NBC 10 Boston reported. Children show no evidence of COVID-19, and many are too young to receive COVID-19 vaccines. The CDC has ruled out SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, as a cause of the Alabama cases.
Most of the patients are fully cured and have been discharged from the hospital, according to the CDC.
The researchers believe the adenovirus may be the cause because many of the children with hepatitis have tested positive for the adenovirus. Two Massachusetts cases tested negative for adenovirus infection, according to NBC 10 Boston.
Adenoviruses are relatively common. It can cause many symptoms such as fever, sore throat, pneumonia, or gastroenteritis, according to the CDC.
Strange cases of hepatitis were first reported in Alabama in October, according to STAT News. On May 6, the CDC announced that it was investigating 109 cases of severe childhood hepatitis, including five deaths, nationwide. The World Health Organization is investigating similar outbreaks around the world, including cases in the United Kingdom, Spain, Israel, and Denmark.
Most cases do not have fever, the WHO report, but show gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. International travel and links to other countries based on currently available information are not factors, the WHO said.
Some medical professionals have not ruled out a link between these cases of hepatitis and COVID-19.
“Inflammation is a major cardiovascular effect #LongCovid. That’s why chronic liver inflammation is also possible,” Epidemiologist and health economist Eric Feigl-Ding wrote on Twitter in April.
Many affected children in the UK have tested positive for adenovirus and for SARS-CoV-2. It could be a leading suspect, STAT News reports, citing a scientific article on Scottish cases published in the online journal Eurosurveillance.
Pandemic can affect these cases of hepatitis in other ways, even if an adenovirus is found to be the cause. Many young children are not exposed to a normal class of germs because of social isolation rules during a pandemic, which could make them more vulnerable once regulations are lifted, according to STAT News.
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