Two of the cases are in suburban Chicago, while the other is in western Illinois. One of the cases resulted in a liver transplant for the child, IDPH said.
The cases of severe hepatitis in the kids is potentially linked to a strain of adenovirus — Adenovirus 41.
Adenoviruses most commonly cause respiratory illness, but can also cause inflammation of the stomach or intestines (gastroenteritis), pink eye (conjunctivitis), or a bladder infection (cystitis), among other illnesses.
"Normal numbers are around 35, these patients are coming in with levels over 3,000," said Dr. Vincent Biak, Pediatric Gastroenterologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem.
A 4-year-old boy’s mother saw signs of jaundice, and his pediatrician then saw his liver numbers were sky-high. The doctor sent the child to the ER at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge.
"We looked at all the top ten reasons for why this would be happening. Couldn't recognize any from the top ten," said Dr. Vincent Biak.
"We tested for adenovirus and we found it in this child's blood and now we are waiting to get the genotype to see if it's the genotype of the other viruses," said Dr. Vincent Biak.
The child was discharged last week. Further research is ongoing.
In the cases so far, adenovirus has been detected along with SARS-COV-2, and in some cases both.
The announcement of the Illinois cases comes after a nationwide alert from the CDC in response to a cluster of nine cases of hepatitis in children in Alabama. The children ranged in age from 1 to 6 and were all previously healthy. The origin of the outbreak is not known, officials said.
The CDC says symptoms of hepatitis, or inflammation of the liver, include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, light-colored stools, joint pain, and jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin).
While there have been cases of hepatitis in children with weaker immune systems, Adenovirus 41 is not known to be a cause of hepatitis in healthy children.
The CDC is encouraging parents to be aware of the symptoms of hepatitis and to contact their healthcare provider with any concerns.
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