CDC Reports Substantial Increase in Number of Cases of Mysterious Hepatitis in Children

May 25, 2022 by Alexa Hornbeck
CDC Reports Substantial Increase in Number of Cases of Mysterious Hepatitis in Children
FILE - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Deputy Director for Infectious Diseases Jay C. Butler speaks during a COVID-19 briefing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarter campus in Atlanta, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. Health officials remain perplexed by mysterious cases of severe liver damage in hundreds of young children around the world. “This is an evolving situation,” said Butler, in a call with reporters on Friday, May 20, 2022. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, File)

In late October of last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that a few children presented with liver injury and positive adenovirus.

There were nine cases of children under the age of 10 who were identified as testing positive for adenovirus that caused severe liver inflammation.

The CDC has now reported a total of 180 cases of the unusual hepatitis within 36 states and territories, with 15 of those cases involving liver transplants due to severe inflammation, and six child deaths. 

Globally, there are more than 600 cases and 14 child deaths.  


An adenovirus is a common virus that typically causes cold-like symptoms but is causing abnormal severe liver inflammation in some children, most whom are aged 5 and under.


Public health researchers have been able to determine the adenovirus is not caused by viral hepatitis, which includes hepatitis A, B, C, D and E.

The bigger concern is that while type 41 adenovirus is commonly known, this particular type has not previously caused liver injury in the ways seen in these recent cases.

The increase in cases is said to be retrospective, with the CDC indicating that 7% of the cases occurred within the last two weeks. Others go back all the way to October 2021. 


The U.K. Health Security Agency has developed a list of possible theories for why the cases are occurring, such as dog ownership. So far, none of the theories have panned out.

Alexa can be reached at [email protected]

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