Hepatitis Outbreak in Kids: How to keep your kids safe

SPOKANE, Wash — The World Health Organization recently reported unexplained hepatitis cases in 20 nations around the world.

Most of them have been reported from European countries. However, the outbreak of hepatitis among children has recently been identified in the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating 109 cases of hepatitis of unknown origin in 25 states, including Washington and Idaho.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that is caused by a variety of infectious viruses.

“Statistically, I believe adults have it more common. However, kids have their own special sets of diseases that we need to look for,” Dr. Jamil Abou-Harb M.D., Pediatrician at Providence said.

Half of the children with hepatitis, so far, tested positive for adenovirus as the potential cause.

Dr. Abou-Harb thinks differently.

“Adenovirus is not necessarily the cause to all of these. What the cases that they are discussing now is the unknown cause, of which we get several years here, even before this year,” said Dr. Abou-Harb.

In response to the recent outbreak, the Washington State Department of Health released an official statement.

“Investigators are examining a possible relationship to adenovirus type 41 infection. This is an evolving situation, so there’s nothing to share yet. we will provide additional details as they become available.” 

Meanwhile, Dr. Abou-Harb said there are several common symptoms that parents can keep their eyes out for.

“If their child started to develop yellow eyes or skin… that’s a big flag.” said Dr. Abou-Harb. “The big thing is here… if your child is ill at all, you should see your pediatrician or your local provider so they can do some further screening.”

Dr. Abou-Harb added that the virus illnesses can potentially cause hepatitis, even the common cold.

To prevent getting hepatitis in the first place, Dr. Abou-Harb recommended avoiding people who are sick, coughing, sneezing, or getting a vaccine for more known causes of hepatitis.

READ: CDC investigating 109 cases of severe hepatitis among children