The outbreak of mysterious hepatitis cases in children has spread to New Jersey.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating four pediatric cases in the Garden State that could be linked to the acute liver disease, the state Department of Health announced Wednesday in a statement.
The children under investigation range from under 1 to 7 years old. All survived and did not need a liver transplant.
“All were previously hospitalized between October 2021 and February 2022, and all have recovered,” the statement said. “None of the children underwent liver transplants. All of the children tested negative for COVID. There were no deaths.”
The mysterious disease has affected more than 110 children in nearly 30 U.S. states. About 300 probable cases have been identified worldwide.
The cases have baffled medical experts.
The cause of the life-threatening liver inflammation is still unclear, but experts think it could be connected to the adenovirus, which can cause the common cold.
Though serious, the disease remains rare.
“It is a new phenomenon,” Vinod Rustgi, distinguished professor of medicine and director of hepatology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine, told NJ Advance Media last week. “There has been some clustering, but it’s not a very common phenomenon by any means, even with the number of cases that have been reported.”
Concerned parents should look for signs of fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Many kids had jaundice — a yellowing of the skin or eyes — and were discovered to have abnormally high levels of liver enzymes.
The state health department issued an alert in April advising medical providers to monitor for suspected cases of hepatitis of unknown origin. The data collected was then sent to the CDC, which analyzed it to determine which cases met the criteria.
Five children have died from the baffling liver illness in the U.S., and 14% of patients have needed transplants, according to the CDC. Its website shows 180 “persons under investigation” for acute hepatitis in 36 states, though the agency notes, “PUI does not mean this person is a confirmed case.”
“The states and CDC are looking broadly (including hepatitis cases of unknown origin in children under 10 years of age, since October, 2021), so this number may go up or down as CDC and states review medical charts and learn more.”
Our journalism needs your support. Please subscribe today to NJ.com.
Spencer Kent may be reached at email@example.com.