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Utah doctors unsure why two kids have hepatitis

May 25, 2022, 4:11 PM
Hepatitis kids Utah...
FILE: Utah health officials are unclear about what caused two cases of a severe liver illness in children. Photo: KSL TV.

SALT LAKE CITY — Two Utah kids have recovered from hepatitis after they were initially hospitalized for severe liver disease.  But questions remain about what caused the illness in Utah, and in similar cases across the world.

Utah epidemiologist Dr. Leisha Nolan said this isn’t something that’s dramatically impacting kids in Utah, but it is something parents should be aware of. She said the fact that they are seeing so many cases is unusual.

“For some reason, the liver is having problems, and, often, we know that it’s because of viruses. We know there’s the Hepatitis viruses A, B, and C. Those are very common reasons to get this kind of damage to your liver,” Nolan said.

“But we can have other reasons, there’s other kinds of infections. But in these cases, it doesn’t seem to be any of those.”

Dr. Nolan said they suspect the liver disease is coming from what’s called “adenovirus,” or the common cold.

“This is still extremely rare, so while we certainly want people to be aware of it we don’t want people to panic.

“We are keeping eyes on it. It is reassuring that this isn’t something that’s dramatically affecting us here in Utah,” Dr. Nolan said.

However, if your child does become jaundiced with yellowing skin she suggests taking them in to see a doctor.

Hepatitis is a form of severe liver inflammation. The causes can range from a virus to an autoimmune response in the body.

What’s perplexing for doctors across the globe right now is that there’s no clear answer to why kids are getting so sick. The CDC and other health agencies continue to investigate. 

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Utah doctors unsure why two kids have hepatitis