Alabama has reported that nine children under 10 had the rare condition, and a few suffered liver failure. Similar cases were reported in North Carolina, as well as in Britain and Israel. Officials are investigating the possibility that an adenovirus, one of a group of common viruses that can cause cold-like symptoms, as well as gastroenteritis, pink eye and other ailments, may be responsible.

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that has a wide range of causes. Viral infections, especially those caused by the hepatitis A, B and C viruses, may lead to the condition. Heavy drinking, certain toxic chemicals, some medications and other medical conditions can also cause hepatitis.

The Alabama Department of Public Health has recorded nine unexplained cases of hepatitis in otherwise healthy children under the age of 10 that occurred between last October and February. None of the children died, but several developed liver failure and two required liver transplants.

Bertha Hidalgo, an epidemiologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, agreed: “A cluster of cases, especially among this age group, is definitely something to monitor closely.”

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