ALABAMA (WRBL) – Since November 2021 health officials in Alabama say they have been investigating an increase in instances of hepatitis among young children in the state, and they believe the increase may possibly be associated with a virus – Adenovirus 41.

In an Alabama Department of Public Health news release, officials said ADPH, in collaboration with pediatric healthcare providers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were investigating the instances of hepatitis among the children.

Officials said cases seen in those affected have been in different areas of the state and sickened children had symptoms of a gastrointestinal illness along with varying degrees of liver injury including liver failure.

While studying and analyzing the children’s cases, a possible association of this hepatitis with Adenovirus 41 was discovered.

To date, health officials said nine children under the age of ten-years-old have been identified as positive for adenovirus and two have required liver transplants

No links, such as common exposure or close contact, among the sickened children could be found, according to health officials.

In order to see if other states are also seeing cases like the ones in Alabama, the CDC “is developing a national Health Advisory looking for clinically similar cases with liver injury of unknown etiology or associated with adenovirus infection.”

According to the ADPH, Adenoviruses are common viruses that typically cause a mild, self-limiting flu-like or gastrointestinal illness. In healthy individuals, it is rare for Adenoviruses to be severe enough that they cause the need for hospitalization or result in loss of life.

Adenoviruses are usually spread by: 

  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • The air by coughing and sneezing
  • Contact with stool, for example, during diaper changing
  • Touching an object or surface with adenoviruses on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands

According to ADPH, Adenoviruses are often resistant to common disinfectants and can stay on surfaces for a long time.

Steps to prevent infection include:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick