HONOLULU (KHON2) — A mysterious virus is causing hepatitis in children is here in Hawaii.
The Hawaii Department of Health said a child on Maui is being treated for the virus, and it’s unknown how the child got it.
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Health experts say it’s troubling because nine out of ten children who get the virus are hospitalized.
The health department said the Maui child, under 10 years old, “was hospitalized for several days with abdominal pain and fever at the end of April. An extensive medical investigation was performed… At this time, no cause has been determined.”
According to the CDC there have been more than 100 cases of a mysterious type of hepatitis in children. 90% of them have been hospitalized, and 14% of them needed a liver transplant.
Health experts say a majority of them were infected by what’s known as an adenovirus which is a fairly common virus. But this particular form of the virus is different.
“More infecting the kids, more directly to the G.I. tract but rarely in the past go to the liver, and this one goes to the liver. That’s what really concerns us,” said Dr. Naoky Tsai, a liver specialist.
Dr. Tsai says this type of hepatitis is different from the other known types so there is no vaccine for it. He adds that it’s also troubling that 14% needed a liver transplant because getting donors can be difficult.
“Because of the availability of a donor. We don’t really have kids dying and then donate a liver, so majority of them get it from their parents,” said Dr. Tsai.
He similar clusters have been found in 20 different countries for a total of more than 200 cases. Five children have died. Researchers initially suspected that it’s related to COVID, but that’s no longer the case.
“That has been pretty much ruled out by both the CDC and WHO in their investigations. They have also ruled out other usual suspects from hepatitis A all the way to hepatitis E,” said Dr. Tsai.
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He says children should see the doctor if they get symptoms similar to the stomach flu– nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Dr. Tsai says adults can get it also although not as bad. But they should stay away from children if they get the same symptoms.