COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Doctors continue to investigate the sudden and mysterious cases of hepatitis popping up in children around the world.
While doctors look for what’s causing the cases, they said parents need to be aware of their children’s health.
Around the world, more children are falling ill with hepatitis, and doctors are unsure what’s causing the uptick in cases.
The latest number from Europe’s CDC showed case numbers doubling over the last two weeks.
“It may well be a new virus that is developing,” said Dr. William Balistreri, a pediatric herpetologist with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. “After the SARS-cov-2, we learned that viruses do emerge and viruses do mutate, so we’re trying to sort all that out.”
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital has treated at least eight juvenile hepatitis cases in Ohio so far.
As doctors work to find out what’s causing the uptick in cases, Balistreri said nothing is being ruled out.
“I don’t think we can dismiss a linkage with COVID and I simply say that because we’re learning as we go along and we don’t know what that virus can do to our immune systems,” he said. “We don’t know what that virus can do in synergy with other viruses.”
Balistreri said parents might just be more aware of their children’s health after going through COVID-19, catching hepatitis cases that might not have been caught otherwise. This might not be such a bad thing, he adds, especially if children are showing the flu-like symptoms associated with hepatitis.
“Stomach pain, vomiting, fever, maybe some respiratory symptoms, and then, if the patient does develop yellow skin, yellow eyes, dark urine — which should be fairly easily recognized — that patient should then be brought for medical attention, and that’s going to be a very small percentage,” Balistreri said.
The Centers for Disease Control said it is investigating more than 100 cases in the U.S., and of those, about 10 percent needed liver transplants. Five of those patients died, but the CDC has not confirmed if those deaths were connected to hepatitis.
Balistreri said it’s important for parents not to panic, but rather, to remain aware of changes to their children’s health.