Little Rock, Arkansas — The Arkansas Department of Health is investigating an unexplained illness in a child last year.
As it is an unexplained form of hepatitis, doctors are still researching what the virus is, and how children are becoming infected with it, the mysterious illness has been coined “Hepatitis X”.
The CDC has asked doctors to report cases of unexplained liver damage in children under 10 going all the way back to October of last year. This began when a cluster of nine children had this mystery syndrome in Alabama.
“These weren’t kids that had prior health problems that sometimes you see with hepatitis more often in. These weren’t immunocompromised children,” said Dr. Joel Tumlison, ADH’s Physician and Outbreak Response.
Doctors tested them for the usual causes of hepatitis, but everything came back negative. They did test positive for a common stomach bug – adenovirus 41. “So, it’s unclear yet whether that’s the smoking gun or not. It’s looking like the most likely suspect, but it’s not clear,” said Dr. Tumlison.
At first, this disease looks like an ordinary case of nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. But if liver damage sets in symptoms of jaundice show up. That’s when the skin or eyes turn yellow. It’s rare and most children with stomach problems don’t have hepatitis.
Currently, the advice on preventing it is to wash your hands frequently, avoid sick people, and make sure to disinfect common areas.
According to the Department of Health, the sick child in Arkansas has recovered.
So far, five children in America have died from the virus.
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