The CDC says 180 children in the United States have been diagnosed with unexplained acute hepatitis, up from 109 cases 2 weeks ago.
Most of those newly counted cases were “retrospective” patients, the CDC said in a Wednesday update on the outbreak.
“Since CDC’s investigation looks at patients reported back to October of 2021, most of these numbers involve patients that are just now being reported, rather than new cases of hepatitis — so not all are recent, and some may ultimately wind up not being linked to this current investigation,” the agency said.
The cases come from 36 states and territories over the last 7 months. Five children have died of the ailment, but none since last February, the CDC said. The agency said 9% of the children required liver transplants, down from 15% on May 5.
The CDC, along with international health groups, is still trying to find the cause of the worldwide outbreak. Adenovirus, which is mainly a respiratory virus, has been detected in about half the children and continues to be “a strong lead,” the CDC said.
Other potential causes are being investigated, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, the CDC said.
“It’s important to note that severe hepatitis in children remains rare. However, we encourage parents and caregivers to be aware of the symptoms of hepatitis — particularly jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin or eyes — and to contact their child’s healthcare provider with any concern,” the CDC said.
The World Health Organization said 348 cases of child hepatitis had been identified in 20 nations.