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What do we know about the cause of the hepatitis outbreak in children?

Two North Carolina school-aged children have tested positive for the condition, and parents have questions about the source of the disease.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Unusual hepatitis cases in children, including some in North Carolina, have spurred some to fill the unknown with their own claims.

WCNC's Verify team is clarifying one rumor about the source of the outbreak.

THE QUESTION

Is the COVID-19 vaccine a confirmed cause of the recent hepatitis outbreak in children?

OUR SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, the COVID-19 vaccine is not the confirmed cause of the hepatitis outbreak in kids. In fact, scientists are still trying to drill down the exact cause.

WHAT WE FOUND

The CDC recently sent out a nationwide alert, asking doctors to watch for kids with hepatitis symptoms and an adenovirus infection, since adenovirus was detected in many of the children.

Still, the CDC doesn't have a definitive link in the cases.

"Medications can cause hepatitis, like overdoses of Tylenol," Houck said. "Fat can cause hepatitis. There's something called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, where certain people with that are overweight and obese can be a risk for hepatitis. This outbreak, from what I understand, it's sort of unknown."

Despite that, Houck said parents can be proactive.

"Avoiding ill contacts, of course," Houck said. "With COVID, I think...there's still some significant mask-wearing around there, which I think would be beneficial. 

"Hand-washing, and to the effect of blood and bodily fluids" is how Houck said hepatitis is typically spread.

CDC and state public health officials continue to work together in close collaboration with clinicians to identify and detect unusual patterns or clusters of illness to prevent further disease.

VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text lus at 704-329-3600 or visit /verify.

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