Serious Hepatitis Cases Among Children Discovered in Missouri and Illinois

ST. LOUIS — Missouri and Illinois are now among 25 states in which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating serious cases of hepatitis among children.

In St. Louis, medical experts at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital are closely monitoring the outbreak. Doctors said parents should not panic.

The CDC is investigating 109 of these pediatric cases, including five deaths. More than 90% of the children were hospitalized and most patients have fully recovered.

More than half of the children had a confirmed adenovirus infection. However, CDC officials said they don’t yet know if the adenovirus is the actual cause.

“Adenovirus is a large family of viruses that commonly cause colds, respiratory infections and pinkeye,” said Dr. Jeff Teckman, SLUCare pediatric gastroenterologist at Cardinal Glennon. “Adenovirus can also infect the intestine and the gastrointestinal tract. They can make you sick. Unfortunately, we do not have an adenovirus vaccine at this time. So yes, even children who are vaccinated in the usual way would not have specific protection against this virus. We suspect that this is the cause of this new problem.”

Symptoms of hepatitis include high fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and jaundice. The CDC says that hepatitis A, B, C, D and E viruses have not been found in children during initial investigations.

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