Parents are being asked to look out for symptoms of hepatitis in their children as unexplained cases continue to spread among children across the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a health alert Tuesday aimed at educating parents about symptoms.
The CDC writes that “Hearing about severe liver disease in children can be concerning. If you have any questions about your child’s health, contact your child’s health care provider,” adding that parents should be aware of symptoms associated with hepatitis, Including fever, fatigue, nausea and jaundice that leads to yellowing of the skin.
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. It can be caused by excessive alcohol intake, toxins, certain medications and medical conditions and is often caused by a virus, according to the CDC.
Here are five things to know about the CDC’s alert about hepatitis, children, and outbreaks.
1. The recent outbreak of hepatitis in children is global.
In April, researchers in the United States and Europe announced that they were investigating small clusters of cases emerging around the world.
As of this week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said more than 340 probable cases of hepatitis in children have been reported in 20 countries.
In the United States, there are at least 109 confirmed cases with five deaths in more than 20 states and Puerto Rico, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
2. The cause of the outbreak is still unknown.
The cause of reported cases of hepatitis in children in the United States remains unknown, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We do not know and are investigating the role that other factors play in this disease, such as exposure to toxins or other illnesses that children may develop,” the agency wrote in its latest health warning, adding that it was also “not uncommon” for remains to be a cause of cases. Hepatitis in children is unknown.
According to the CDC, some children who contracted hepatitis also had adenovirus type 41, a type of virus that can cause severe stomach illness in children.
Adenoviruses are different types of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to acute bronchitis, pneumonia, pink eye, acute gastroenteritis, or gastritis, according to the CDC.
3. The hepatitis B vaccine is not protective against a recent outbreak.
Hepatitis viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis in the world, including hepatitis A, B and C, but have been excluded in the most recent outbreak.
The hepatitis strain seen in this vaccine is not the type covered by the hepatitis vaccine children receive, according to Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News’ chief medical correspondent.
“These cases of hepatitis are not among those [covered by the vaccine]Ashton said Wednesday on “Good Morning America.”
4. Hepatitis outbreaks do not appear to be linked to COVID-19.
Health officials do not believe the current outbreak of pediatric cases is linked to the novel coronavirus or the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Ashton.
“I just spoke to the director of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walinsky, this morning,” Ashton said. “She wanted me to emphasize that the majority of these cases were in children between the ages of 2 and 5. These children, as we all know, do not qualify for the COVID vaccine, so this has nothing to do with the vaccine.”
5. Parents should contact their pediatrician if symptoms appear.
The CDC advised parents to look out for symptoms in their children including fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, joint pain, jaundice — yellowing of the white part of the eyes or skin — or a change. The color of urine or stool.
If any of these symptoms are present, parents should contact their pediatrician as soon as possible, according to the CDC.
The agency also urges parents to ensure their children are up to date on all vaccinations and follow safety protocols, such as washing hands often, avoiding sick people, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding touching the eyes, nose or mouth.