A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) appeared to rule out COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines as factors in the mysterious cases of hepatitis among children in Alabama.
The CDC report, published Friday, said that none of the Alabama children tested positive for COVID-19 when they were taken to the hospital. None also had a previously documented case of SARS-CoV-2, also known as the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, or had received the COVID-19 vaccine.
All nine children tested positive for an adenovirus, officials said, and five of them tested positive for adenovirus type 41. The virus generally causes gastrointestinal illness in children including diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Respiratory issues and fever are also common symptoms, the CDC said.
The CDC last week issued a health advisory over the mysterious hepatitis cases in Alabama, but cases have also been reported in Wisconsin, Illinois, and North Carolina, according to local officials. So far, the CDC has only reported on the Alabama cases.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services said Thursday it is investigating the death of a child, as well as suspected cases in three other children. One of the children needed a liver transplant, state officials have said.
On Thursday, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said around 170 cases have been reported in 16 countries, up from about 74 cases in the United Kingdom just two weeks ago.
“What is particularly unusual is that the majority of these children were previously healthy,” Dr. Philippa Easterbrook, a WHO official, said on Thursday during a live-streamed event.
The WHO said in an advisory that at least 74 children worldwide have tested positive for the adenovirus, which is a common type of virus that can cause stomach pain, respiratory issues, bladder infections, and more.
“This doesn’t at this stage prove that there’s a causal link to these cases, but it is a promising interesting early signal that is being looked at in more detail,” Easterbrook remarked Thursday.
Easterbrook also ruled out that COVID-19 vaccines are the cause of the majority of the child hepatitis cases because most of the children haven’t received the shots.
Japanese officials this week, meanwhile, confirmed the country’s first child hepatitis case in what is believed to be the first case reported in Asia. The child did not test positive for adenovirus, officials said, according to reports.
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver that can be caused by a viral infection, alcohol, prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications acetaminophen, very high doses of certain herbal supplements, toxins, and various medical conditions. Hepatitis viruses, which spread via bodily fluids, can also cause liver inflammation.
Symptoms of hepatitis include abdominal pain—namely in the upper right part of the abdomen right below the ribs—dark-colored urine, light-colored stools, and jaundice, which is the yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.