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Pediatric outbreaks of hepatitis

Pediatric hepatitis outbreaks in the U.S. and several European countries over the past few weeks and months have raised new concerns as a number of children have suffered liver damage (liver inflammation, or “hepatitis”) after becoming ill.

These children do not have evidence of any hepatitis viruses, including hepatitis A, B, C, D or E. Instead, scientists are investigating the possibility of an adenovirus, a common childhood virus that can cause gastroenteritis and cold symptoms, as a cause. Adenoviruses have been known to cause acute hepatitis in children who are immune compromised, but they do not commonly cause hepatitis in otherwise healthy children.

As clinicians and researchers continue to investigate, they will learn more about this acute hepatitis outbreak. We will keep this page updated with new information as it becomes available.

To learn what is happening in your state, you can contact your state or local health department–most have information on their websites or hotlines to speak to a public health professional. If you are outside the U.S., your health minister or the WHO are good resources for more information. If you have concerns about your child's health, please contact your physician or other health care provider. If it is an emergency, dial 911 (in the U.S.).

Resources for additional information:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recently released a useful document, "Proactive Statement: MMWR on children with acute hepatitis and adenovirus infection in Alabama," posted here.

The World Health Organization has posted useful information, "Multi-country: Acute, severe hepatitis of unknown origin in children," here.

The Hepatitis B Foundation suggests a very recent article in Hepatitis magazine, posted here, as a useful summary, with valuable links, though we cannot validate or verify the information it contains.