Wisconsin reports deaths potentially associated with outbreaks of hepatitis in children

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has issued a health warning highlighting a worrying increase in cases of hepatitis and adenovirus in otherwise healthy children in the United States and several other nations. The department said it is investigating “at least four similar cases” in Wisconsin, including two children who had “severe outcomes,” one child who received a liver transplant and another who died.

The department has not provided further information on the cases. If the children are confirmed to have hepatitis and adenovirus, the Wisconsin child who died would be the first known death in the United States associated with the mysterious cases.

The announcement comes after several warnings from major health organizations, including CDC and the World Health Organization, on clusters of children infected with hepatitis. More than two dozen cases of severe hepatitis have been reported in at least seven states, and cases have also been reported in countries including Scotland, the United Kingdom, Spain and Ireland.

Since October 21, 2021, the state of Alabama has reported nine cases of hepatitis in children between the ages of 1 and 6 with no known cause. All nine children were also tested positive for adenovirus. Two patients required a liver transplant, but none of them died.

Wednesday’s alert asks clinicians who find pediatric patients with hepatitis who have no reason to consider testing them for adenovirus and report potential clusters directly to the CDC.

According to the CDC, hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that can be caused by several factors, including viral infections, alcohol use, toxins, medications, and certain other medical conditions. The CDC said signs and symptoms of the disease can include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, light stools, joint pain and jaundice.

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