BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) – News 4 heard from Oishei Children’s Hospital on how doctors treated a baby with a mysterious case of hepatitis — the first suspected case to be reported in the area.
The CDC is investigating 109 cases of hepatitis in children, including five deaths, in 25 states and territories, but experts are not sure why kids are getting sick.
Dr. Osama Almadhoun, chief of Oishei Children’s division of gastroenterology and nutrition, who treated the boy, said the baby is in good health. After three days of treatment last month, the baby’s family was allowed to take him home.
The baby initially had symptoms no parent wants to see — fever, vomiting and diarrhea.
It was discovered that the baby had hepatitis, which is inflammation of the liver.
“The reason for admission was acute viral gastroenteritis, or stomach bug and concern of dehydration,” Almadhoun said, “Only by doing blood work we realized that the infant liver enzymes were significantly elevated.”
Doctors hooked the baby up to an IV.
“There is no specific treatment for such hepatitis, other than supportive treatment, like giving fluids for dehydration and monitoring and making sure the kid’s nutrition status is good,” Almadhoun said.
Many things can cause hepatitis, such as excessive alcohol use, certain medications and infections, but the cases of hepatitis recently seen in kids across the country have no known cause.
“It’s definitely challenging and concerning — the only good news is these cases are very rare,” Almadhoun said.
As for what parents can do, doctors say they should be on the lookout for certain symptoms like fever, fatigue and loss of appetite, and keep up with their child(ren)’s hygiene and vaccinations.
“They should just continue to be vigilant about their children’s health, and if they are ill, it’s best to reach out to your healthcare provider,” said Dr. Thomas Russo of UB’s Jacobs School of Medicine.
Oishei Childen’s Hospital said the family of the baby boy was quick to respond to symptoms.
Something that doctors have been able to rule out is that these cases of hepatitis have not been linked to COVID-19. So far, state health officials have not said how many cases they’re investigating in the state.
The state health department would only issue this statement:
The New York State Department of Health, working with NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene and the CDC, has been investigating cases of pediatric hepatitis to determine if any may be related to the illness that has been reported in Europe and the United States.”
New York State Department of Health
Of the children who have gotten sick, the CDC says that more than half of patients have tested positive for adenovirus, with more than 90% hospitalized and 14% have had liver transplants.
So far, we’ve heard from several local county health departments that say no suspected cases have been reported to them. Those counties are Niagara, Chautauqua, Orleans and Genesee counties.
The CDC will be further discussing their investigation next week in a Zoom call.
Jeff Preval is an award-winning anchor and reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2021. See more of his work here.