The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday confirmed one possible new death from the unexplained cases of pediatric hepatitis that have been detected throughout the U.S. and Europe.
The latest death, reported on Thursday, brings the potential death toll in the U.S. up to six from the five that were reported by the CDC earlier this month.
During a press briefing, a CDC official said seven percent of the 180 cases that have been reported so far occurred within the past two weeks. The majority of the cases have been detected retrospectively and most of the children who were found to have hepatitis have since recovered.
A common link that could tie all these cases together has not been found so far, according to the agency.
According to the officials, they have not still not been able to ascertain whether the cases they have detected over the past seven months represent a pre-existing trend that is just now being noticed, or if they represent a spike in pediatric hepatitis.
Cases have been detected in 36 U.S. states so far, with one CDC official noting that these states were the 36 most populous in the country. No clustering of cases has been detected, with the patients being “very dispersed.”
During the briefing, officials reiterated that a possible link to adenovirus remains the “leading hypothesis” behind the potential cause of these hepatitis cases.
Jay Butler, the CDC’s deputy director for infectious diseases, said there are plans to conduct a case-control evaluation which will show if the rate of rate of adenovirus among children with liver disease differs from children without liver disease.
“These findings can help determine whether adenovirus is just an incidental infection that’s been detected or whether there might be a causal link,” said Butler.