Georgia Health Officials Investigating ‘Several Suspect Cases’ of Child Hepatitis

By Matt McGregor
Matt McGregor
Matt McGregor
Reporter
Matt McGregor covers news from North and South Carolina for The Epoch Times. Send him your story ideas: matt.mcgregor@epochtimes.us
May 13, 2022 Updated: May 13, 2022

The Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) confirmed on May 11 that of the 109 cases of hepatitis diagnosed in children throughout the United States, “several suspect cases have been reported” in Georgia.

“They all remain under investigation at this time,” Nancy Nydam, media relations for GDPH, told The Epoch Times.

Nydam gave no specific number of cases.

In the Tuesday GDPH meeting, WSB-TV in Atlanta reported on the meeting in which state epidemiologist Cherie Drenzek stated that hepatitis could be caused by “a number of potential exposures, previous infections,” with other co-factors possibly being “toxins, medications, animal exposures, you name it.”

“We’re just speaking as detectives really here in a way,” Drenzek said.

Parent Jillian King told WSB-TV that her daughter was diagnosed after she said she had shooting pains in her upper abdomen area.

“I suppose my frustration is just the fear of the unknown as far as other families are concerned and hoping that no one else gets it and has to go through a worse time,” King said.

Dr. Jay Butler, the deputy director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said during a May 5 press conference that the CDC is investigating 109 children with hepatitis of unknown cause occurring in 25 states and territories over the past seven months.

“Sadly, this does include five reported deaths,” he said. “Overall, more than 90 percent of these patients under investigation were hospitalized, 14 percent received liver transplants, and more than half had a confirmed adenovirus infection.”

In April, the CDC issued a nationwide health alert notifying clinicians and public health authorities about their investigation involving nine children in Alabama identified between October 2021 and February 2022 with hepatitis or inflammation of the liver and adenovirus infection.

“All of these patients were previously healthy, came from different parts of the state, and were hospitalized with significant liver injury without a known cause, including some with acute liver failure,” Butler said. “All nine ultimately tested positive for adenovirus, which is a common virus that typically causes mild cold or flu-like symptoms or stomach and intestinal problems.”

Though adenovirus has been detected in the nine causes in Alabama, Butler said it’s not known if it’s the cause.

Butler said CDC had received “a number of reports of similar illnesses from health care providers and state health departments across the country.”

Butler said none of the nine children in Alabama had been reported to have had COVID-19 or had been vaccinated for COVID-19.

“The children affected are young with a median age of two years, which means that most are not eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” Butler said. “COVID-19 vaccination is not the cause of these illnesses, and we hope that this information helps clarify some of the speculations circulating online.”

The CDC is recommending that clinicians begin testing for adenovirus and that parents pay attention to symptoms of hepatitis in children, which can be vomiting, dark urine, light-colored stools, and yellowing of the skin, also known as jaundice.

On May 10, Hawaii became the 25th state to report a case of hepatitis of an unknown origin in a child.

Cases have been reported in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin, according to the CDC. At least one case has been reported in Puerto Rico, too, said Butler.

As of May 1, the World Health Organization reported about 228 possible child hepatitis cases, with more under investigation in about 20 countries. The UK, which first reported the cases to the U.N. health agency, had identified 163 cases as of May 6.

Jack Phillips contributed to this report.