BERKLEY, Mich. (WXYZ) — Doctors are sounding the alarm about a pediatric hepatitis outbreak after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to notify medical professionals.
The cause of the outbreak is unknown at this time.
“Is this the next thing? Hepatitis. Who would ever think that with children?’ Rusty Cline asked.
There are so many questions running though Cline’s head as he thinks about his two young children.
“Is this a whole new pandemic? Is this something we are going to have to deal with?” he continued. “I read it effects their kidneys or liver, something internally. Just another thing a parent has to deal with — it's terrible.”
Local doctors say the virus attacks the liver.
“It can be severe. The liver will stop working,” Dr. Najeeb Zoubi said.
Zoubi is the director of the liver transplant program at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit.
He’s been monitoring the outbreak that was first identified in Europe before making its way to the United States.
“Scotland gets seven or eight cases per year and within a short period of time — two months — they got 10. That’s a huge increase for them,” Zoubi explained.
The CDC says a cluster of nine hepatitis cases were spotted in Alabama in children ranging in age from 1 to 6.
There are now cases in North Carolina and Illinois. At the moment, no cases have been reported in Michigan.
“Majority of the cases recovered on their own, meaning they were in the hospital, but they did not need the liver transplant,” Zoubi said.
Right now, the cause is unknown, but the CDC says “at this time, we believe adenovirus may be the cause for these reported cases, but investigators are still learning more“
In a statement, CDC states that “Adenoviruses spread from person-to-person and most commonly cause respiratory illness, but depending on the type, can also cause other illnesses such as gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach or intestines), conjunctivitis (pink eye), and cystitis (bladder infection).”
Zoubi added, “There are many cases that tested positive adenovirus. Usually, adenovirus will give you a cold and diarrhea, not liver failure.”
He says he doesn’t want parents to panic. He just wants them to be aware of the signs.
“Increase sleepiness, fatigue, feeling weak. Sometimes you can see jaundice, yellowish discoloration of the eyes,” he said.
Worldwide, there are at least 169 cases and one death.
“It might reach Michigan. I am kind of optimistic that most of the cases won’t require a liver transplant,” Zoubi said.
“It’s a wait and see game. Just like everything else. How bad is this going to be? How quickly will it spread?” Cline said.
Zoubi also adds that if you start noticing symptoms in your children, ask your pediatrician to run some blood tests to check your child’s liver enzymes.
More information about the outbreak can be found on the CDC's website.