Infection with adenovirus, a common childhood virus, is the leading hypothesis for recent cases of severe hepatitis of unknown origin in children that have led to at least six deaths, US health officials said on Friday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it is continuing to investigate whether 180 cases identified in 36 US states and territories since last October represent an increase in the rate of pediatric hepatitis or if a current pattern has been revealed through improved detection. .
The agency in April issued a national alert for doctors to be on the lookout for children with hepatitis, which can damage the liver and lead to liver failure.
Jay Butler, the CDC’s deputy director for infectious diseases, said on a conference call that about half of children diagnosed in recent months were also infected with a type of adenovirus, a virus that causes the common cold, but the agency is still investigating the disease. exact cause of the disease.
“Evidence is accumulating that there is a role for adenoviruses, particularly adenovirus-41,” he said.
Butler said one theory is that pandemic mitigation measures may have limited exposure to the adenovirus, leading to infections as social distancing and other efforts were eased.
The CDC is also investigating whether Covid infection may be playing a role, as well as other pathogens, drugs, and risk factors.