Mysterious Hepatitis Outbreak in Children Claims More Young Lives

hepatitis outbreak
Three more children have died from hepatitis outbreak.Getty/Stock

The strange hepatitis outbreak among children has already prompted health warnings in the U.S., Europe and Indonesia.

Three children in Indonesia have died from acute hepatitis, raising the international death tally to at least four as a mysterious outbreak marches from the United States to Asia.

The children, who had been hospitalized in the capital of Jakarta, suffered nausea, vomiting, heavy diarrhea, jaundice and fever, the Indonesian health ministry announced Monday. The government urged parents whose children had these symptoms to immediately bring them to a hospital.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has already issued a health warning about the strange epidemic, as have health agencies in Europe. The World Health Organization is also monitoring the cases. 

Medical experts are struggling to determine a cause for the severe outbreak.

At least 169 children around the globe have been diagnosed with the hard-hitting strain, which attacks the liver.

Federal health officials and the Alabama Department of Public Health are investigating nine cases of hepatitis in children ranging in age from 1 to 6. The were all hospitalized October 2021 and February 2022 with serious liver damage, health authorities said.

Medical authorities are also investigating two reported cases in North Carolina, one each in Delaware and Louisiana, three in Illinois, four in Wisconsin, six in Tennessee and at least two in Minnesota. Some of the children, including babies, required liver transplants.

"CDC is working with state health departments to see if there are additional U.S. cases, and what may be causing these cases," the agency said last week in issuing its health alert.

 "We continue to recommend children be up to date on all their vaccinations, and that parents and caregivers of young children take the same everyday preventive actions that we recommend for everyone, including washing hands often, avoiding people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding touching the eyes, nose or mouth," the CDC said.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that can cause diarrhea, stomach pain, vomiting and nausea. Some of the Alabama children developed jaundice and elevated liver enzymes.

Bailey Pennington of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said two children in that state had developed severe hepatitis and have recovered.

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