At least four young New Jersey patients are being examined as potential cases of severe hepatitis in children — an unnerving national health concern.

State health officials say the children — ranging from infants to 7 years old — have all recovered after being hospitalized between October 2021 and February.

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. None of the children in New Jersey underwent liver transplants and all tested negative for COVID-19, state officials said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has so far identified 180 pediatric patients across 36 states and U.S. territories under investigation over the past seven months.

In April, the state health department advised medical providers to monitor and report such suspect cases of “hepatitis of unknown origin.”

There have been no reported deaths since February and the proportion of patients requiring liver transplants is now around 9% — down from 15% as of May 5.

Hepatitis child cases (Townsquare Media)
Acute hepatitis in children (Townsquare Media)
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Many are “retrospective” patients just now being reported, the CDC continued, rather than new cases of hepatitis some may ultimately wind up not being linked to the current investigation.

Adenovirus has been detected in nearly half of the children and "continues to be a strong lead," CDC officials said. Those are common viruses, that typically cause mild cold- or flu-like illness.

CDC continues to examine possible causes, including testing for and ruling out some of the viruses that commonly cause hepatitis (types A, B, C, D and E).

While such severe cases among children remain rare, CDC officials said, guardians should be on alert.

"We encourage parents and caregivers to be aware of the symptoms of hepatitis – particularly jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin or eyes – and to contact their child’s healthcare provider with any concern."

Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at erin.vogt@townsquaremedia.com

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