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Mysterious rise in hepatitis cases causing concerns

Posted at 3:19 PM, May 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-10 15:19:53-04

An emerging situation that’s causing quite the concern among parents – Hepatitis cases surging in kids across the country.

“Hepatitis is basically just a way to say inflammation of the liver, and that can be caused by a wide variety of viruses,” said Kate Asher, Nursing Manager at Public Health Muskegon.

She says, in the U.S., Hepatitis is normally seen more in adults than children. But recently, it’s largely been seen in children under the age of 10.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating more than a hundred hepatitis cases in children in 25 states and territories. At least two of those have been confirmed in Michigan. Officials say, of the total cases in the U.S., 90% of kids had to be hospitalized, 14% needed liver transplants and five have died.

Although the cause remains unknown, more than half of those kids tested positive for adenovirus.

Asher says, the most common signs and symptoms for hepatitis are flu like symptoms, which can include muscle aches, joint pain and fatigue. Another hallmark sign is going to be the yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes.

But, unfortunately, she says some people don’t experience any symptoms. When it comes to prevention, Asher says staying up to date on vaccines, washing your hands frequently and teaching your kids not to touch their eyes, nose mouth, without washing their hands.

She adds, the most common types are Hepatitis A and B. The lifespan for someone living with hepatitis depends on the type they have and the virus that’s causing it.

“For instance, Hepatitis B, usually if you get it later in life, you have a higher chance of your body naturally combating it and getting rid of it,” said Asher. “Whereas if you get it at a younger age, you're more likely to develop a chronic condition.”

Viral illnesses such as parvovirus and adenovirus can be the cause. In adults, excessive drinking could be a contributing factor as well as digesting contaminated foods or water. Asher encourages baseline testing to stay ahead of Hepatitis.

Last year, more than 9,200 liver transplants were performed in the U.S.

Currently, there are more than 106,000 people on the National Transplant Waiting List for a variety of organs.

For more information on signing up to become a donor, click here.

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