Tarrant County child treated for rare mystery hepatitis case

A child from Tarrant County came down with a mysterious case of severe hepatitis.

According to Tarrant County Public Health, it’s the first unexplained case of pediatric hepatitis in the county. The child was treated at the hospital and released. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently investigating 180 unexplained pediatric hepatitis cases in 36 states. Doctors are trying to find possible causes.

The mystery illness is particularly concerning to health experts because it is still unclear how it is spreading. But seven months after the first cases were reported in the United States, the number of cases is still small.

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And while the virus is potentially severe, Dr. Charles Dunlap with the Pediatric Associates of Dallas says it is also good to keep this in perspective. 

"If you look at statistical data on epidemiology and spread, it is really nothing like the COVID virus at this point," he said. "By the time we were four to six weeks into COVID in this country, we were talking about thousands of cases."

The health department said severe hepatitis or inflammation of the liver is rare in children. Symptoms include jaundice – a yellowing of the skin and eyes – nausea, fever, fatigue, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine and light-colored stools. 

"I would not be concerned if your child had mild vomiting or a little diarrhea," Dunlap said "I would be concerned if you thought the whites of your child's eyes were looking yellowish or light stool or dark urine. Those would be symptoms that would be more concerning."

Laboratory testing is used to rule out the hepatitis type A, B, C and E viruses that usually cause such illnesses. 

Doctors don’t believe there is a correlation between this rare form of hepatitis and COVID-19.

The CDC says it is working with public health officials around the world to understand what they are learning about the hepatitis of unknown cause virus.