Parents are being asked to watch for symptoms of hepatitis in their children as an unexplained outbreak of cases in children continues across the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a health alert on Tuesday aimed at educating parents about the symptoms.
“Hearing about severe liver disease in children can be concerning. If you have any questions about your child’s health, call your child’s healthcare provider,” the CDC wrote, adding that parents should Be aware of symptoms associated with liver inflammation, including fever, fatigue, nausea, and jaundice, which is yellowing of the skin.
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. It can be caused by heavy drinking, toxins, certain medications and medical conditions and is often caused by a virus, according to the CDC.
Here are five things to know about the CDC’s alert on hepatitis and children and the outbreak.
1. The latest childhood hepatitis epidemic is worldwide.
In April, researchers in the United States and Europe announced they were investigating small clusters of emerging cases around the world.
As of this week, the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that more than 340 probable cases of hepatitis in children have been reported in 20 countries.
In the United States, there are at least 109 confirmed cases with five deaths in more than 20 states and Puerto Rico, according to the CDC.
2. The cause of the outbreak remains unknown.
The cause of reported cases of hepatitis in children in the United States remains unknown, according to the CDC.
“We do not know and are studying the role that other factors play in this disease, such exposure to toxins or other infections that children may have,” the agency wrote in its latest health alert, adding also that it is “not unusual” for the cause of hepatitis cases in children to remain unknown.
MORE: More children are developing hepatitis and researchers want to know why
Some of the children who had hepatitis also had adenovirus type 41, a type of virus that can cause serious stomach illnesses in children, according to the CDC.
Adenoviruses are different types of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to acute bronchitis, pneumonia, pink eye and acute gastroenteritis, or inflammation of the stomach, according to the CDC.
3. The hepatitis vaccine does not protect against this latest epidemic.
Hepatitis viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis worldwide, including hepatitis A, B and C, but were ruled out in the last outbreak.
The strain of hepatitis seen in this vaccine is not covered by the hepatitis vaccine children receive, according to Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News’ chief medical correspondent.
“These cases of hepatitis are not those [covered by the vaccine]so that really mystifies public health officials at this point,” Ashton said Wednesday on “Good Morning America.”
4. The hepatitis outbreak does not appear to be related to COVID-19.
Health officials do not believe the current outbreak of pediatric cases is related to the novel coronavirus or the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Ashton.
“I just spoke to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky this morning,” Ashton said. “She wanted me to point out that the majority of these cases were in children between the ages of 2 and 5. These children, as we all know, are not eligible for the COVID vaccine, so it has nothing to do with the vaccine.”
MORE: CDC investigating 109 mysterious cases of pediatric hepatitis, including 5 deaths
5. Parents should call their pediatrician if symptoms occur.
The CDC has advised parents to be on the lookout for symptoms in their children, including fever and fatigue, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, joint pain, jaundice – a yellowing of the white part of the eyes or skin – or a change in the color of urine or stool.
If any of these symptoms are present, parents should call their child’s pediatrician as soon as possible, according to the CDC.
The agency also urges parents to make sure their child is up to date on all vaccinations and to follow safety protocols, such as washing hands often, avoiding sick people, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
The CDC issues an alert to parents about the outbreak of hepatitis in children. Here’s what to know originally posted on goodmorningamerica.com