A sixth child has now died from hepatitis in the US, as public health officials investigate nearly 200 mysterious cases of the illness nationally.
The latest death was reported a day after the agency updated its case count, which now sits at 180 across 36 states, according to Dr Jay Butler, the deputy director for infections diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Dr Butler did not reveal where the fatality occurred, or the age of the child.
America has reported more hepatitis cases in the latest outbreak than anywhere else in the world. Thirteen fatalities have reported globally.
Thirty-six states and territories have now reported cases, prompting officials to work with health departments nationally to investigate why the outbreak is sickening so many children.
‘It’s important to note that severe hepatitis in children remains rare. However, we encourage parents and caregivers to be aware of the symptoms of hepatitis – particularly jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin or eyes – and to contact their child’s healthcare provider with any concern,’ the CDC said in a press release Wednesday.
‘While this may appear to be a large increase in patients under investigation over the last two weeks, it’s important to understand that the vast majority of these are what we consider “retrospective” patients,’ officials added.
Earlier this month, the agency reported that a total of five children had died in the current outbreak. Friday’s death is the first new death since February.
The percentage of patients that have required liver transplants has also gone down from 15% to 9% since May 5, officials said.
The majority of sickened children have made a full recovery, according to officials.
Scientists across the globe are stumped as to what is behind the serious outbreak of cases. Some believe an infection with adenovirus may be the cause, but the theory has not been confirmed and officials are investigating.
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