KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City area doctors are on the lookout for hepatitis cases in kids younger than 16 after the Centers for Disease Control started tracking a series of cases where they can’t directly identify the cause.
There have been more than 100 cases across a handful of states, including Missouri. Some of those cases have required liver transplants because the organ was so badly damaged.
“These kids will get an infection and it might present as a cold in their friend, a cold in their sibling, or their parent, but then for that particular patient, it becomes much more severe, something that leads to liver damage,” said Children’s Mercy Kansas City section of Hepatology and Transplantation Chief Dr. Ryan Fischer.
The problem is doctors don’t really know why there seems to be more cases in the United States and through parts of Europe.
One potential explanation is the Adenovirus, which has been found in many of the recent cases. Also, two years of social distancing because of COVID has prevented other diseases and illnesses young people might have been exposed to in that time.
Now that many parts of society are opening back up again, that extra exposure could lead to more illness overall.
“Maybe we’re seeing that cluster occur a little more intensely at this point in time,” Fischer said.
But he stresses that’s only a working theory at this point while medical professionals try to gather more information about what’s causing this spike.
Fischer said while more than 100 infections is serious for the families directly impacted, it still represents a relatively small chance that the average child could be negatively impacted. He said parents and caretakers should watch out for jaundice, extreme fatigue, vomiting, and diarrhea as symptoms of hepatitis to seek out medical attention.
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