Hepatologists and infectious disease doctors at Children’s of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham are investigating several cases of hepatitis found in the state since last fall, and they want to make the public aware of how to stay safe.
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the latest data on these cases Friday.
Children’s of Alabama doctors treated nine patients – all children under 10 years old – for hepatitis between October 2021 and February 2022. They say all nine cases were caused by adenovirus – a common virus that often leads to vomiting and diarrhea. Two of the patients needed liver transplants.
Doctors say what’s unique about this situation is that adenovirus typically does not lead to hepatitis in healthy patients. When it does lead to hepatitis, it’s usually in patients who are immunocompromised. When doctors at Children’s and UAB discovered the initial cases in the fall, they alerted the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and the CDC.
Doctors say the cases initially presented as vomiting and diarrhea. Within a few days, the patients showed signs of jaundice and yellowing of the eyes, which are indications of possible liver failure.
To protect yourself from adenovirus, doctors offer the following recommendations:
- Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol based hand sanitizer
- Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unclean hands
- Use disinfectants to wipe down surfaces
- Avoid close contact with infected individuals