2 Utah children treated for mysterious hepatitis symptoms; cases included in worldwide investigation

Are local cases related to cases in other states and countries?

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Dr. Leisha Nolen at a news conference in January 2022. On Wednesday, Nolen announced that two Utah children under the age of 10 had been treated for hepatitis symptoms "with no known cause."

Two Utah children under the age of 10 have been treated for hepatitis symptoms “with no known cause,” and their cases have been identified and included in the ongoing worldwide pediatric hepatitis investigation, according to the Utah Department of Health.

Hepatitis is a liver inflammation that can lead to severe illness. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, light-colored stool, joint pain and jaundice, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“There are many causes of hepatitis, but evaluation of these children did not find a clear source,” state epidemiologist Leisha Nolen said of the two Utah cases. “While rare, children do get hepatitis and we don’t always know the cause.”

Both Utah children who mysteriously came down with hepatitis symptoms were hospitalized with serious illness, but have since recovered, officials said.

Utah health officials are investigating whether the two pediatric cases are related to similar cases in other states and countries, which may be related to an infection of adenovirus type 41, a virus that “usually causes mild colds or stomach illnesses in children,” according to the Utah Department of Health.

The department is working with local health care providers, public health departments and the CDC.

Providers are encouraged to report any suspected cases to public health officials for further investigation. And parents are urged to contact their health care providers if they are concerned about any symptoms their child may be experiencing.

According to the health department, simple actions to protect against hepatitis include frequent hand-washing, covering coughs and sneezes, staying home when sick and keeping up-to-date on vaccinations.