Hepatologist flags symptoms of severe hepatitis in children as cases rise in the US

Health officials in the United States and abroad concerned about an uptick in cases of hepatitis among young children. The illness is possibly linked to a respiratory virus.
Yale Medicine hepatologist Dr. Rima Fawaz says 74 cases worldwide have been reported of this hepatitis that causes severe dysfunction of the liver. Fawaz says about 10% of those cases led to transplants, and one patient died.
"When the liver enzymes should be less than 25 in children, they had liver enzymes in the 500s and 1000s," said Fawaz.
Fourteen cases have been reported in the U.S. so far: two in North Carolina, three in Illinois and nine in Alabama.
Hepatitis in children is usually rare.
"So, typically in Alabama they usually see let's say around five cases a year of this severe acute dysfunction of the liver, and they saw these cases clustered within a few months," said Fawaz.
Testing linked cases abroad and at home to a new form of adenovirus, which usually causes more respiratory symptoms like the cold or pneumonia but can also cause gastroenteritis.
While no cases have been reported yet in Connecticut, Fawaz encourages parents to be extra cautious about airborne infections.
"The best measure parents can take is good hand-washing, because that impacts, as I say, all aspects of infection," said Fawaz.
She says symptoms to be on the lookout for include vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice in the eyes or skin, fever, dark-colored urine and severe abdominal pain.