Wisconsin investigating 4 cases of unusual hepatitis in children, including one death

In a health alert issued Wednesday, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services asked doctors in the state to watch for these unusual cases and report them.

Wisconsin is the fourth state to announce that it is investigating cases of liver inflammation, or hepatitis, that don’t appear to be caused by any of the usual suspects, such as hepatitis A, B, C or D.

Alabama has reported nine cases in its cluster, including two children who needed liver transplants. Illinois has reported three cases, including one that required a liver transplant, and North Carolina says it has two cases that meet that definition.

The World Health Organization said Saturday that at least 169 cases of acute hepatitis have been identified in children in 11 countries, including 17 requiring liver transplants and one death.

The majority of cases, 114, have been reported in the UK. There have been 13 cases in Spain, 12 in Israel, six in Denmark, fewer than five in Ireland, four in the Netherlands, four in Italy, two in Norway, two in France, one in Romania and one in Belgium, according to the WHO.

The UK Health Security Agency says that about three-quarters of the 53 sick children tested for adenovirus there came back positive. The virus that causes covid-19, on the other hand, was found in just a sixth of children tested, in line with levels of community transmission in the UK.

Adenoviruses form a large family of viruses that can be transmitted from person to person and cause a variety of illnesses, including colds, conjunctivitis, and gastroenteritis. They are rarely reported as a cause of severe hepatitis in healthy people.

But these hepatitis cases come as the spread of adenovirus has intensified in recent months, along with other common viruses that have increased with the end of Covid-19 prevention measures and behaviors that kept most at bay. of the germs.

After falling sharply during the pandemic, documented adenovirus cases have returned and are now at higher levels than the UK saw before Covid-19.

Although research is swirling around the adenovirus, it is not yet clear how it might cause inflammation of the liver. Experts say the virus may just be a factor leading to these cases when it occurs alongside something else.

CNN’s Michael Nedelman contributed to this report.

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