Researchers investigating pediatric hepatitis outbreak impacting Pittsburgh area

PITTSBURGH — It’s a mystery. The CDC is investigating a pediatric hepatitis outbreak that stretches into 24 states. The health agency is looking for local help, asking doctors to comb through their records from the last few months.

“They are doing some leg work to decide how many of those cases are true cases of this hepatitis,” said Jim Squires, a doctor with UPMC Pediatric Gastroenterology.

So where does Pittsburgh’s UPMC Children’s Hospital stand with this investigation?

“We’ve had a handful of cases that have met reporting criteria, but none of those cases have been confirmed as of yet, as far as we know. So it’s too soon to say if this is something we are even seeing at a measurable level,” Squires said.

With this search comes some major challenges for doctors.

“A lot of times, the symptoms are relatively nonspecific,” Squires said.

Squires further stated that severe cases are difficult to treat unless an underlying cause is found, as the virus attacks the liver. The outbreak appears to be targeting children between the ages of three and ten.

“As of right now, the treatment for most kids who come in would be generally supportive care, fluids, keeping fevers down and monitoring labs very carefully,” Squires said.

The doctor advises parents to keep up good health hygiene and to not hesitate to contact a doctor if they are concerned. As soon as Squires knows more information, he hopes to share it with the community.